England 261/7 (Banton 112, Davies 63; Georgeson 3/29) beat New Zealand 229 (Allen 87, Clarke 60; Jacks 3/41, Woods 3/44) by 32 runs
A superb unbeaten hundred from Tom Banton, ably supported by a half-century from Jack Davies, rescued England from 48/3 and helped them post 263.
England’s stand-in captain Will Jacks won the toss and chose to bat, and saw his team struggle to score at first. England managed just 23 runs off their first 10 overs, losing Liam Banks bowled aiming an expansive drive at Luke Georgeson. Some respite came immediately following the first PowerPlay, England awoken after Banton dismissed a free-hit from Todd Watson, but when England lost two wickets in seven balls – Savin Perera flicking aerially to short midwicket, Will Jacks bowled by a nip-backer from opposing captain Kaylum Boshier – memories of collapses of 25/7 and 14/5 against Australia and Bangladesh respectively must have begun to resurface.
That it didn’t transpire was down to Davies and Banton, who combined for a superb partnership of 139. It wasn’t always pretty – it took them more than 11 overs to register their first boundary – but it was effective, and by the end both were scoring freely, and looking to accelerate.
Banton was particularly impressive. Despite making a half-century against Australia, his dismissal drew criticism for the choice of stroke – a reverse sweep – especially when it sparked an ignominious slide. Today, he was determined to make it count, spending four balls on 99 before inside-edging a single, and only allowing himself release after passing the landmark, smashing two sixes, the first over deep midwicket, the second into his hands before he stepped on the rope, before being caught attempting a third. Another six was carried over the boundary from the bat of Tom Scriven as England recorded 261/7.
New Zealand’s day in the field was mixed. There were misfields and some tough drops, but also some excellent placements from Kaylum Boshier, who can take credit for two wickets with inventive positioning, and a superb spell of 3/29 from Luke Georgeson.
It left the game well-placed, probably about even, and for much of the chase a close finish was on the cards. New Zealand's innings followed a similar pattern to England's, with the loss of early wickets off-set by a superb partnership of 113 between Finn Allen and Katene Clarke that seemed to have put New Zealand firmly ahead.
Allen in particular was supreme, showing all the deftness, power, maturity and aggression that brought him an unbeaten century and a 90 off 40 in his first two innings. But his dismissal, falling to a marginal LBW dismissal, triggered a remarkable collapse of 28/7.
Simply put, New Zealand panicked. The running was sloppy, the shots unnecessary, and the minds frazzled in the heat. For their part, England did excellently to keep their heads when the pressure was in. Even when they weren't looking like breaking the partnership they kept the run rate down, ensuring the required rate stayed above run a ball, and then when the breakthrough came, they pounced, earning the rewards for their pressure.
It's not where England wanted their tournament to end, but they can take heart from how they rallied following two chastening defeats.