England 305 for 8 (Bairstow 106, Roy 60) beat New Zealand 186 (Latham 57, Wood 3-34) by 119 runs As it happened
This was not quite how England had dreamed of making the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1992. Falling away after a fast start with the bat and then defending 305 rather than 355 or more, their method to rumble New Zealand in Durham was less the hyperactive, we'll-chase-anything way of Eoin Morgan and Trevor Bayliss than that of Australia's table toppers. But after 44 years of hurt dating back to the very first global tournament in 1975, one suspects that Morgan's men could not have cared less. They are now two wins away from lifting the cup, and the outpouring of relief at reaching the pointy end of the competition was palpable, even if it was momentarily delayed by a streaker who ran almost as many rings around ground security staff as Morgan's men did around Kane Williamson's.
The result all but knocked Pakistan out of contention for the semi-finals. For them to make the final four, they need to bat first against Bangladesh, score at least 308 and then dismiss Mashrafe Mortaza's side for 0. And if Pakistan pile up 350, they need to beat Bangladesh by 312 runs in order to qualify at the expense of New Zealand. However, Pakistan will be knocked out immediately if Bangladesh bat first on Friday.
On Wednesday, England owed much to Jonny Bairstow, after another strong-armed century at the top in the reassuring company of Jason Roy and Joe Root. Others also contributed, whether Morgan in an innings that looked more important the longer the day went on, pivotal late runs from Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett, then a collective bowling and fielding display that showed precision, discipline and a little too much class for a New Zealand side all too reliant upon Williamson's runs.
It was Williamson's exit, run out by a deflection when backing up, that more or less put the crowd at Chester-le-Street into celebratory mode. New Zealand will now have some time to think about their cricket, and they will be given plenty of pause by how their batting has gradually broken down under the sustained spotlight of the round robin cup format.
New Zealand will be frustrated, too, by how they never challenged a target that was reduced in size by at least 50 runs in the final 20 overs of England's innings. The Durham surface slowed up more rapidly than most predicted at toss time, but was still good enough for Tom Latham to stroke his way to an attractive 57 - with a little more support at the other end, the target would not have been so far out of reach. For the most part, though, this was England's day to breathe a sigh of relief and celebrate a little. They are where they need to be, albeit not quite by the means they expected to get there.
A sunny summer's day, a fresh but dry pitch and the tournament's trend towards rewarding target defenders all pointed strongly to Morgan to bat first, and he did so gladly against opponents lacking the hamstrung Lockie Ferguson. Williamson offered up an opening gambit - Mitchell Santner to take the first over - that was very nearly rewarded by a skidding arm ball that beat Roy and narrowly missed leg stump before scuttling away for four byes.
But that was about all that could excite New Zealand for the first 30 overs, as England gave the appearance of setting a platform for a huge score. What they were in fact doing, through Roy, Bairstow and Root, was something rather more vital - they were using the best of the batting conditions to win the match in its first couple of hours. Boundaries flowed against New Zealand bowling that dropped short or drifted wide, Bairstow particularly savage, and had final score predictions lurching well beyond 350 as England marched to 194 for 1 after 30 overs.
Bairstow's innings was his second century in as many World Cup innings, and third in three against New Zealand: he had clearly roused himself to a peak of performance via the tight corner England had found themselves in after losses to Sri Lanka and Australia. His cover driving and pulling verged at times on the brutal, making the very most of pace on the newish ball and allowing Roy to play something more of a supporting role until he miscued to cover - a sign of things to come.
Roy was angry with himself, his bat thudding into the ground as he bellowed "No!" to everyone and no-one at Chester-le-Street. But there was no immediate loss of momentum as Root rotated the strike in typically proactive fashion and ushered Bairstow to three figures. The loss of Root, to the faintest touch on a hook at Trent Boult, was a surprise, but signalled the start of a markedly different phase in the game.
Undoubtedly the pitch became more challenging, denying the batsmen consistent pace to work with. But equally New Zealand used its vagaries effectively, mixing up their paces and seam positions to coax a succession of miscues. Bairstow, having given his hundred a David Warner-esque celebration leap, dragged Matt Henry on. Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Woakes all picked out fielders they tried to drive over and beyond, and Morgan, having played an innings both slightly skittish and ultimately effective, was unable to evade Santner at cover.
At 272 for 7 with Morgan's exit, New Zealand had a glimpse of a chase for just 280 or so, but Rashid and Plunkett played vital cameos to breach the 300 barrier. If New Zealand went to the innings break hopeful of challenging England, they were quickly to be set back - partly by their own misjudgment.
Woakes' first over was sharp and accurate, so much so that his first ball to Henry Nicholls hit the back pad in front of the stumps and drew a quick raised finger for LBW. Neither Nicholls nor Martin Guptill seemed eager to review, a call shown to be faulty when ball-tracking had the delivery going comfortably over the stumps. That early breakthrough was exactly what England needed, and it was followed up by some decidedly fast overs from Jofra Archer, who looked far freer in his movements after some struggles with a side problem.
Guptill was dismissed when, trying to glance, touched the ball too finely and so allowed Buttler to capitalise with a superb diving catch, built upon fine balance and anticipation of what was coming. That wicket brought Ross Taylor in to join Williamson, and for a few overs they set about trying to set a platform with all the reserve of two players who know their value to the New Zealand side. At 61 for 2 the Durham crowd was just starting to tense, when a backing up Williamson was run out by a Taylor drive deflected off Mark Wood's fingertips into the stumps.
As if in shock, Taylor chose the following over to take an extremely optimistic second run on Rashid's arm at fine leg and was comfortably run out, despite a dive, and just as Jimmy Neesham and Latham seemed to be forming their own union, the former was squeezed out by Wood's pace and tight line from around the wicket. When Colin de Grandhomme obligingly swivelled Stokes' first ball to Root in the deep, it was virtually party time for England, leaving Latham and the lower order to concentrate on limiting the size of the margin.