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New Zealand scamper through to semis
by Jinu Sabastian


Ground:New Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Scorecard:England v New Zealand
Player:BB McCullum, GD Elliott, PD Collingwood, SCJ Broad
Event:ICC Champions Trophy 2009/10

DateLine: 29th September 2009

 

A match that could have been utterly one-sided suddenly livened up when England launched a spirited fightback. Chasing 146 to win, New Zealand were comfortably placed at 113 for 2 but then they lost four wickets for just 24 runs as the match became interesting. In the end, Vettori helped his team cross the winning line.

 

Overcast conditions forced Vettori to bowl first in a match which they were required to win to progress to the semi-finals and Mills did not disappoint his captain. Off the second ball off the match Mills produced a brutish delivery which took a thin edge to McCullum to remove Strauss for a duck. Bond joined the party when he ripped one through the defences of Joe Denly which kept low to leave England tottering at 10 for 2 in 3.5 overs. Owais Shah, coming off his breathtaking 89-ball 98 against South Africa, looked far from his best as he struggled on a pitch that had life. Shah looked nervous and he was unable to find any off the ten balls that he faced in the middle off his bat. After struggling for nine balls, Shah tried to keep the things moving by manufacturing a shot which he only succeeded in edging to McCullum. Collingwood was joined by Morgan, another hero in the victory over South Africa and the two tried to calm the English nerves. Collingwood tried to break free by pulling Bond for a huge six over square-leg but it was the only aggressive shot in the first ten overs. The stranglehold continued till Bond gave way for Franklin and Collingwood upped the tempo. He collected ten runs off the left-armer's over to try and up the ante.

 

But just as he and Morgan had begun to set a platform, Ian Butler provided the breakthrough when a top-edged cut from Morgan was parried by McCullum and taken on the rebound by an alert Ross Taylor from first slip. Bopara, who is visibly under-pressure, joined Collingwood in the middle and the two had to rebuild the innings. It was not easy going as the Kiwi bowlers were right on the money denying the English batsmen the opportunity to score freely. But Collingwood being the fighter that he is was still no prepared to give up as he targeted Franklin. He picked him up for another six in the to keep the scoreboard moving. Bopara too found the fence off Butler and it raised visions off another partnership for England which would tilt the scales in their favour. But Elliot cut short that dream with the help off Ross Taylor. Collingwood pulled a long hop from Elliot and it seemed that he would clear the midwicket, but Taylor timed his jump to perfection and plucked the ball out off thin air to cut short Collingwood's innings.

 

Luke Wright did nothing of note when he was surprised by the extra bounce that Elliot could generate from his pace only to edge to McCullum and he was joined in the pavilion by Broad when he lobbed an easy catch back to Elliot who was on a roll. England score read a miserable 95 for the loss off seven wickets in 27.1 overs and they continued to slide further when Swann top-edged another short ball from Elliot into the gloves off McCullum as England innings plummeted to 109 for eight in 31.2 overs. Bopara who watching the carnage unfold from the non-striker's end was trapped leg-before by a one that kept low from Bond to leave England reeling at 117 for nine in 35 overs and Vettori had not come into the attack. Sidebottom and Anderson held fort for sometime with Sidebottom even finding the boundary ropes three times, but then Vettori came and cleaned up the English innings to leave New Zealand to score 147 to progress into the semis.

 

The Kiwi openers - Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill - got off to a flier as they put the English bowlers to the sword with their attacking strokes. For a moment it seemed that they were playing T20 as they were trying to blast each and every ball they faced for boundaries. Off the two McCullum was the more fluent as he opened up his shoulders to play some astounding shots to all parts off the ground. While McCullum looked fluent, Guptill looked scratchy as his initial boundaries came off edges, but once he got his eyes in he matched McCullum shot for shot. The opening bowlers, Anderson and Sidebottom had no answer as to what had hit them as the duo showed no mercy to them. Anderson and Sidebottom could not find the swing or bounce to trouble the two batsmen as they looked very impotent.

 

McCullum improvised several off his shots and Strauss could only watch the carnage unfold before his eyes. McCullum lofted Sidebottom over midwicket, slashed Anderson over point and then he played the shot off the evening. McCullum relayed his intentions by charging down the track and Sidebottom seeing him dancing down threw the ball wider. But McCullum managed to reach the ball and carved it over point for a stunning six and then three balls later charged down again to bisect the point fielder for another boundary as New Zealand raced to 53 in just eight overs. Broad was introduced into the attack but he too met with the same fate as the openers did not relent their assault. Trying to finish off things early McCullum charged down the pitch to reach his half-century but could only hit it to Bopara at covers. Guptill got to his fifty, but a beautiful leg-cutter from Anderson cut short his innings as he edged to Swann at first slip. Swann was again involved in another dismissal when he took a one-handed blinder at second slip off Taylor's bat to leave New Zealand in a shaky position. At 114 for 3, the New Zealand innings was wobbling.

 

The English bowlers then resorted to bowl with cross seam and surprisingly they began to get extra bounce from the wicket. The extra bounce accounted for Elliot who feathered a thin edge through to Morgan off Broad. Hopkins too was removed via a short ball from Broad to leave the New Zealand innings in a mess. The score read 130 for five in 24 overs. Vettori joined Broom in the middle and it was evident that panic was spreading in the Kiwi camp. Side bottom was brought back and he responded to his captain's call when he removed Broom again with the extra bit off bounce which the batsman edged to the keeper to leave the Kiwi innings in shreds. Needing just 6 runs to win, Vettori and Franklin first dispelled the wave off panic that was spreading and then Vettori thumped a short ball from Broad to the boundary to see his team through.


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