England beat NZ to reach Champions Trophy semifinals

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England's Jake Ball celebrates taking the wicket of New Zealand's Luke Ronchi during the ICC Champions Trophy Group A cricket match against New Zealand in Cardiff, Wales Tuesday June 6. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)
England’s Jake Ball celebrates taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Luke Ronchi during the ICC Champions Trophy Group A cricket match against New Zealand in Cardiff, Wales Tuesday June 6. (Joe Giddens/PA via AP)

Cardiff, Wales (AP) — England advanced to the semifinals of a tournament they have never won with an 87-run victory over New Zealand in the Champions Trophy at a wind-swept Sophia Gardens on Tuesday.

Jos Buttler hit an undefeated 61 off 48 balls as the hosts were put into bat and scored 310 all out in 49.3 overs in the Group A match.  New Zealand were dismissed for 223 in 44.3 overs, led by captain Kane Williamson’s 87, and can still qualify for the last four but now need a favor from England against Australia.

Joe Root scored 64 off 65, opener Alex Hales 56 off 62, while Ben Stokes smashed a morale-boosting 53-ball 48 for England. Tim Southee ended on 2-44 off 9.3 overs, Adam Milne took 3-79 and Corey Anderson 3-55.

“I thought we looked like we were getting about 340 at stages, but fell away towards the end, which is disappointing. But the fact that we’re still trying to win games with the bat, regardless of the situation that we’re in, I think is testament to the team,” said England captain Eoin Morgan, who was out for 13. “We’re staying true to what we believe in and what we’ve achieved over the last couple of years.”

Buttler reflected that belief by sending Trent Boult (1-56) for a sensational six in the 46th over after the wicketkeeper-batsman calmly stepped aside and tipped the ball backward over his shoulder. The ball was going out of the entire ground until it hit the camera gantry. England scored a total of 10 sixes to just one for New Zealand from James Neesham.

Leading the chase, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson hit a 98-ball 87, the top-score of the day. It wasn’t enough as New Zealand slowed down and lost wickets, collapsing from 158-2 in the 31st over to all out only 65 runs later.

“With the inconsistency of the pitch, I thought if we genuinely did take one (wicket), we would take two,” Morgan said.

Man-of-the-match Jake Ball (2-31 off eight overs) gave England a great start by bowling power-hitter Luke Ronchi for 0 in the first over before Martin Guptill and Williamson stabilized the innings. A menacing Stokes forced Guptill to edge to lone slip Root for 27 off 33.

Williamson and Taylor shared a 95-run partnership for the third wicket and were on the brink of taking control of the game. But Mark Wood struck at a key time for England, with Williamson caught behind for a 98-ball knock which included eight fours.

It was Williamson’s fifth straight ODI 50 against England and he appeared distinctly unhappy at the time of his dismissal with the state of the pitch.

“(The ball) bounced a bit more than I expected and hit my glove. It happens,” Williamson said afterward. “It’s a bit frustrating, because we were getting a little bit of momentum with the bat. But, yeah, I guess those things happen and you let them go and move on.”

It was one of those unusual days. Fierce winds regularly blew the bails off the stumps and disturbed bowlers’ run-ups, with Wood trying four times to bowl one delivery.

Even the boundary markers were blown further in by a few meters, and a section of the pitchside advertising toppled over to cheers from the non-capacity crowd. On a day for the unusual, Mitchell Santner was stumped off a wide against Adil Rashid, who impressed on his return with 2-47 off 10 overs.

Earlier, Root hit four fours and two sixes before chopping the ball back onto his wicket against Anderson.

Like the weather veering from bright sunshine to threatening showers, Williamson made 21 bowling changes as the Black Caps limited England’s deep batting lineup. Stokes proved a key threat with a knock that included four fours and two sixes before he looped an uppercut almost straight to Milne at third man off Boult.

New Zealand were later fined for a slow-over rate, with the team judged to have been two overs short of their target. Williamson pleaded guilty and was fined 40 percent of his match fee, while the rest of his team got 20 percent fines.

New Zealand play Bangladesh on Friday in Cardiff with both teams on one point. Australia have two points and face rivals England, who have four points, on Saturday at Edgbaston.

Morgan promised no let-up against the Australians.

“I think if we’re truly going to be contenders for this tournament, we need to beat the best teams,” Morgan said. “And Australia are one of the best teams.”