England crush NZ to storm into semis after Bairstow ton
DURHAM – England stormed into the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup for the first time since 1992 after Jonny Bairstow's second consecutive century helped secure a comprehensive 119-run victory against New Zealand on Wednesday.
Bairstow smashed 106 to help England to 305-8 in their final group game at the Riverside Ground though the total could easily have been bigger but for a middle order collapse.
New Zealand wobbled early in their chase, losing both openers cheaply, before a couple of run-outs effectively derailed their chase and they were all out for 186 in 45 overs.
England will face either holders Australia or twice champions India in the semi-finals at Edgbaston.
New Zealand could not qualify on Wednesday but, given their superior run rate, Pakistan would need a freak result against Bangladesh on Friday to leapfrog the Black Caps.
After England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and elected to bat, Bairstow and Jason Roy threatened to replicate their Edgbaston heroics where the openers had raised 160 to set up their campaign-reviving victory over India.
Against a New Zealand attack missing Lockie Ferguson, who is nursing a tight hamstring, Bairstow and Roy looked unstoppable, scoring freely to bring up England's 100 in the 15th over.
Jimmy Neesham ended the 123-run partnership in the 19th over when Roy, having made a run-a-ball 60, perished at short cover.
Bairstow needed 95 balls to bring up his 100 as he and Joe Root kept the scoreboard ticking over.
Trent Boult returned to dismiss Root for 24 and England suddenly began losing wickets regularly with the pitch showing signs of slowing down.
Bairstow chopped a Matt Henry delivery onto his stumps and Jos Buttler miscued Boult to Kane Williamson at mid-off.
Even Ben Stokes struggled to get going and managed only 11 off 27 balls. Morgan made 42 before Mitchell Santner took a stunning catch off Henry to dismiss the England captain.
New Zealand were rocked early in their chase, losing both openers by the sixth over with a meagre 14 on the board.
The onus was on Kane Williamson (27) and Ross Taylor (28) to put the chase back on track but two run-ours, one fortuitous and another ill-judged, led to the dismissals of New Zealand's two most senior batsmen.
Taylor's drive brushed Mark Wood's fingers before hitting the stumps at the non-striker's end with Williamson out of his ground.
In the next over, Taylor ran himself out going for a risky second.
Tom Latham made a fighting 57 down the order but it had no real bearing on the outcome of the contest.Reuters