ICC Champions Trophy 2017: England vs New Zealand, Kane Williamson's untimely dismissal is the SK Turning Point of the Match
Having had to contend with a solitary point from their rain-affected match against Australia, New Zealand badly needed a victory to control their chances of reaching the semi-finals. However, they ran into an imposing England team who ultimately proved to be too good for them.
Despite picking up a flurry of wickets in the death overs, the Kiwis saw Eoin Morgan’s men make merry on a surface with uneven bounce. Chasing a formidable target of 311, New Zealand appeared to be on course as skipper Kane Williamson crafted an enterprising innings. With the game reaching its tipping point, Mark Wood managed to snare him and the hosts eventually cruised to an 87-run victory at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff.
Here’s how the breakthrough culminated in a convincing victory for England.
Williamson and Taylor combine
New Zealand’s chase got off on the wrong note as make-shift opener Luke Ronchi perished on the fourth delivery of the innings. Williamson joined the explosive Martin Guptill in the middle. The duo sought to provide a solid foundation and slowly formulate a path towards the target.
No boundaries came in the first five overs which yielded just 10 runs. But the slow start did not deter the Blackcaps as Guptill hammered a couple of fours off Jake Ball and got himself going. Meanwhile, at the other end, Williamson broke the shackles as well. They brought up a much needed fifty partnership for the second wicket.
Just when it seemed like the stand was blossoming into a substantial one, all-rounder Ben Stokes showed his utility by coercing Guptill to play away from his body. Having lost both openers, the Kiwis looked to the experienced Ross Taylor to provide some calmness to the proceedings.
With Morgan setting precise field placements, England’s bowlers stuck to their plans and maintained control of the run-rate. Upon getting himself in, Taylor began to forge another handy partnership with his captain. Both batsmen looked to nudge the ball into the gaps in order to keep the scoreboard ticking. Williamson soon brought up a sterling half-century and appeared to be at the top of his game.
Wood rises to the occasion
Even though he had off-spinner Moeen Ali at his disposal, Morgan did not use spin from both ends in the middle-overs. While leg-spinner Adil Rashid offered stability at one end, he rotated his seamers and made the well-set batsmen work extremely hard for their runs. At the end of 30 overs, New Zealand were firmly positioned at 156/2. With their army of lower-order hitters lurking in wait, they would have fancied their chances at that stage.
Watch Kane Williamson’s dismissal here
However, England stormed back into the scene when pacer Wood broke open the game. Exploiting the uneven bounce on offer, the slippery bowler steamed in and landed one in the corridor of uncertainty.
Despite possessing a sound judgement in and around the off-stump, Williamson was done in by the extra pace as well as rising bounce. His attempt at executing a dab in the third man region backfired as the ball crept up and kissed his glove. Jos Buttler completed a comfortable catch behind the stumps. The New Zealand captain had to return to the dressing room after a 98-ball 87.
New Zealand lose their way
With Williamson’s wicket coming at a crucial point in the game, England’s body language changed to a discernible extent. Buoyed by the breakthrough, they continued to build the pressure by stitching a sequence of dot-balls.
Having gotten into a bit of rut, Taylor attempted to make his move. However, his heave only went as far as Joe Root at deep mid-wicket. Even as the required run-rate climbed, New Zealand’s lower-order failed to come to the party.
James Neesham played one shot too many and departed without creating any impact. The likes of Neil Broom, Mitchell Santner and Corey Anderson fell one after another to leave their team in a quagmire. The Kiwis’ over-reliance on Williamson was vindicated as they began to lose their way once the captain was dismissed.
England blew away their lacklustre opponents for a paltry 223 and became the first side in the tournament to book a place in the semi-finals.