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Jason Roy leads England march to the final

His 44-ball 78 studs seven-wicket win after bowlers fight back to keep New Zealand to 153 for 8

30 March 2016 22:51 By Anand Vasu, New Delhi

If there is one thing Twenty20 cricket has taught batsmen around the world it is that no target is beyond reach. At the ICC World Twenty20 2016, New Zealand has taught the cricket world a different kind of lesson, that any score is defendable. But, a rampaging England team would not let the small matter of 154 runs stand between it and a spot in the final, and lost only three wickets in booking its flight to Kolkata and a date with the Eden Gardens.

When Eoin Morgan won the toss and put New Zealand in on Wednesday (March 30) at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, he quickly discovered that this pitch was the best batting surface this ground had served up.

Martin Guptill began with a bang, sending the first ball to the fence, and more than once he received deliveries in his hitting arc, either short and wide or full and straight. But David Willey, who has made a habit of picking up early wickets, got one to hold the angle and Guptill, committed to the stroke, nicked off.

New Zealand gave Colin Munro license to thrill and he played a shot to almost anything sent his way. It wasn’t pretty, several balls squirting off the edge, others going anywhere but their intended destination, but the runs came thick and fast, allowing Kane Williamson to attempt to construct an innings and set the tone.

As always, Williamson’s strokes were cloaked in gorgeousness, but this thing of beauty was not a joy forever. While Munro hacked away and thrived, Williamson pursued excellence and failed. Trying to force Moeen Ali, Williamson (32) skied the ball and the bowler contained his excitement long enough to run as far as mid-off to settle under the return catch.

New Zealand, who had laid a rock solid foundation of 89 for 1 from 10 overs, found that Williamson’s wicket changed everything.

England’s bowlers were right on the money, mixing up yorkers with tidy lines and lengths, and the wickets came with an air of inevitability. Munro (46) hacked one high and wide to the fielder at third man, while Ross Taylor was well caught by Morgan as he tried to clear the infield.

No batsman outside the top four made it to double figures, and New Zealand had to settle for 153 for 8, with the last five overs of the innings yielding just 20 runs and costing five wickets.

If any team could make a fist of defending 153 on a good batting surface, it was New Zealand, but it wasn't to be. Where the need of the hour was to take the pace off the ball, New Zealand attempted to blast England out, Corey Anderson, Adam Milne and Mitch McClenaghan trying to hurry batsmen into playing false shots. This played right into the hands of Jason Roy and Alex Hales, who relished the feeling of ball coming onto bat.

Roy was the early aggressor, cutting, driving and cracking the ball around the ground to reach 20 through five boundaries. Hales was not one to be left out, and he too got in on the act, England bringing up its 50 in only 4.2 overs.

By the time Williamson turned to his slower bowlers, both batsmen were well set, and Hales (20) only fell playing a lazy shot, picking out the fielder at long-on. Such was Roy’s domination that the opening partnership was worth 82, even with the usually explosive Hales contributing 20 off 19 balls.

Roy continued in merry vein, muscling the ball so hard that every time he pierced the infield it left the man in the deep with no chance. Grant Elliott, bowling his dibbly dobblies, created a chance, but when Luke Ronchi failed to gather the ball and complete the stumping, it appeared as though nothing was going to go New Zealand’s way on the night.

Against the run of play, however, Roy (78) found a way to get himself out, coming down the pitch to the legspin of Ish Sodhi to york himself and be bowled. By this stage, England was sitting pretty.

And although Morgan fell for a golden duck, the nerveless Joe Root and the bustling Jos Buttler set off fireworks of their own, ensuring England romped to victory with seven wickets and 17 balls to spare.

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