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England win, but New Zealand qualify for Trans-Tasman final

NZ v Eng, Tri-Series, report

England see off home side by two runs, but lose out on a place in the final on net run rate.

With Eoin Morgan scoring an unbeaten 80 and putting on a 93-run stand with Dawid Malan, England managed to post an authoritative 194/7 after being put in by New Zealand in the final league game of the triangular Twenty20 International series. The equation was simple thereafter: England needed to restrict New Zealand to 174 or below to ensure progress to the final, where Australia awaited them.

However, Colin Munro’s typically explosive 21-ball 57 put paid to their hopes as New Zealand scored the required runs to qualify for the final. England’s two-run victory proved insufficient, but it did ensure they didn’t end the Trans-Tasman series without a win.

After a sequence of poor scores, Munro had returned to form with a 33-ball 76 in Auckland against Australia earlier in the week. He continued that form in Hamilton to give New Zealand exactly the start they wanted.

Chasing 195, Munro wasted no time, bludgeoning David Willey over square leg for six. He followed that up with another one to end the over, and by the time he was sent back, New Zealand had 78 on board in just over six overs. Munro had hammered seven sixes and three fours.

It was the sort of batting designed to deflate the opposition, and it visibly did just that. Even after Munro holed out to the excellent Adil Rashid and was followed back to the dressing room by Kane Williamson, bowled by Liam Dawson, New Zealand could amble along without pressure. They saw off Rashid, who ended with 1/22, and then once again put their foot down.

Mark Chapman and Martin Guptill combined to take 18 runs off the 14th over from Dawson, and Guptill carried on to notch up his 14th T20I half-century. He was eventually bowled by Malan in the 17th over for a 47-ball 62, but only after he had creamed him for two sixes.

Colin Munro smashed a 21-ball 57, while Martin Guptill struck 62 off 47
Colin Munro smashed a 21-ball 57, while Martin Guptill struck 62 off 47

By this stage, New Zealand were just ten runs away from securing their spot in the final – they brought up the mark with caution, Chapman safely drilling a single. England then, commendably, kept their chins up, with Tom Curran and Chris Jordan giving away just 18 runs in the final two overs when New Zealand needed 21.

Earlier, England got off to a decent start, with Jason Roy in beast mode. Their first runs came when Roy pulled Trent Boult from outside off and deposited him into the stands behind long-on. Mitchell Santner was taken to the fence as well in the next over, and England had 22 on board after just two overs. However, in what was typical of the innings, after a burst of runs came quick wickets as Alex Hales first miscued one off Tim Southee before Roy holed out off Boult.

In came Malan and Morgan, and England had their best patch of the match. Malan, in particular, seemed to be able to pick sixes whenever he pleased. After consecutive fours off Colin de Grandhomme, Malan lifted biggies off all of Williamson, Munro and Ish Sodhi. For a while, Morgan was a mere observer at the other end, but he had Santner all to himself in the 11th over, and he picked 21 runs off it with three fours and a six.

Eoin Morgan top-scored for England with an unbeaten 46-ball 80
Eoin Morgan top-scored for England with an unbeaten 46-ball 80

Malan brought up his half-century with another six, again off Sodhi, and was fortunate to be dropped behind the stumps soon after. However, he couldn’t capitalise, attempting another six and finding more height than distance to hole out off de Grandhomme for 53. Once again, a wicket brought another as Jos Buttler was stumped after a careless foray down the ground off Sodhi.

With five overs left, England had just 124 on board. They had gone 27 balls without a boundary, and desperately needed to accelerate. To their luck, Morgan seemed in good nick. He bludgeoned de Grandhomme over the fence twice in the 17th over, and then went berserk against Boult with two sixes and a four.

Wickets fell at the other end. Sam Billings (6) scooped one onto stumps, before Willey (10) and Liam Dawson (10) both holed out, attempting to accelerate. But when Jordan finished the innings, England had a tall total to defend and were hopeful.

Munro put paid to that.

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