England reached the semi-finals of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy after beating New Zealand by 87 runs at Cardiff on Tuesday. In the process, England, who finished on 310-6, became the first team to qualify for the last four.
England set New Zealand a chase of 311 to aim for, something that became harder once Jake Ball dispatched Luke Ronchi for a first-ball duck. The Blackcaps needed someone to steady things and Martin Guptill duly obliged, sending Ball to the boundary as New Zealand slowly began stockpiling some runs.
Guptill soon followed the six by hitting a four off Liam Plunkett's delivery in the next over. Guptill's partner, Kane Williamson, was also collecting some useful singles and a few twos as New Zealand began to make progress.
Even so, Guptill was the batsman England needed to shift, and it was Joe Root who caught him out after the former sliced a Ben Stokes delivery into the slips. New Zealand were now 63-2 and relying on Ross Taylor to pick up the slack.
There was a scary moment when Williamson was struck in the head by a Plunkett delivery after a late bounce had deceived the ducking batsman, per Sky Sports Cricket:
Suitably, there was a long pause while Williamson received some treatment and was allowed to collect himself. Once play resumed, the Blackcaps forced nine more runs, but they needed to up the pace if they were seriously going to threaten England's total.
Fortunately, Williamson was sufficiently recovered to put up his own fifty, as New Zealand edged toward a collective century with a little more than 28 overs left.
Meanwhile, both teams were having to deal with tricky conditions, according to ESPNcricinfo's Melinda Farrell:
New Zealand were 158/3 when Williamson left on 87 after being caught by Buttler following a cute delivery from Mark Wood that went across seam. Things soon got worse for New Zealand when Taylor was caught by Root.
Jimmy Neesham's wicket fell before Neil Broom was dimissed for leg before wicket, but only after review:
Once Corey Anderson's wicket fell, England knew they were into the last four.
Earlier, Jos Buttler had kept England rolling at the wicket by delivering a quality half-century. Sky Sports Cricket showed one special stroke from Buttler:
The 26-year-old soon found the boundary to wrap up his 50:
Buttler ultimately finished on a respectable 61 as England pondered whether their total of 310 would prove enough.
It did, so now the Three Lions can turn their focus to Wednesday's Group B games to see who will join them in the semi-final.