Unbeaten England top group
England scrambled a three-wicket win over New Zealand to complete a perfect ICC World Twenty20 Super Eight record.
England needed to reach only 120 in reply to the Black Caps’ 149 for six in today’s final Group E match at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia to remain top of the table on run-rate.
But on the back of an important stand of 52 between Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright, they did the job properly to ensure they can welcome Kevin Pietersen back from his fatherly duties in London - where his baby son was born today - with the lure of a chance to reach his first final in a world event.
New Zealand, meanwhile, paid for missing their opportunity and were edged out for a place in the last four on run-rate by defending champions Pakistan, who, like South Africa, also managed just one Super Eight victory to England’s three.
From the moment Craig Kieswetter got England’s run-chase off to a flying start with a straight six and a four in Nathan McCullum’s first over, they were almost always on course to book a semi-final back at this ground on Thursday - against the runners-up in Group F.
Kieswetter was gone by the end of the third over, slicing a catch to point off Kyle Mills.
Pietersen’s understudy Ravi Bopara failed to beat the off-side ring and was caught at cover when he tried to muscle Scott Styris’ lack of pace for a boundary, and Michael Lumb went lbw for 33 sweeping Daniel Vettori on the same score in the next over.
Styris’ skills were ideally suited to this stop-start surface, and Paul Collingwood soon fell victim too when he chipped a catch to midwicket - the third of three wickets in three overs for six runs.
That wobble left England 66 for four and made New Zealand temporary favourites, only for Morgan to once again demonstrate his big-game temperament with a fluent 40.
Wright eventually hooked a slower Shane Bond bouncer to be caught at deep backward-square for 24.
But Morgan stayed put almost until the end, leaving Tim Bresnan to finish the job with a rapid 23 not out after the left-hander was athletically caught by Vettori off a miscued pull off Bond, as England got home with five balls to spare.
After winning the toss, the Black Caps had Brendon McCullum, Styris and Ross Taylor’s useful contributions to thank principally for a total which proved inadequate but was more than either Pakistan or South Africa managed earlier in the day on the same pitch.
Brendon McCullum lost his opening partner Jesse Ryder to a mow across the line, bowled by Bresnan, but still gave his team some run-a-ball momentum in the first half of the innings.
He was to go to the second of two catches in the leg-side deep off Graeme Swann for 33, Stuart Broad having made a notable take and cleverly stayed just inside the rope at deep backward-square to see off Aaron Redmond.
From 65 for three in the 11th over, Taylor and Styris added another 62 in seven until the latter got little distance and too much height on an attempted hit over the top to be well held by Wright for 31.
That was the first of two wickets in an over for Broad - Gareth Hopkins was bowled for one - and, although Taylor stayed long enough to record a second six off Ryan Sidebottom en route to 44, New Zealand had to settle for a lower score than had seemed likely.
In the final analysis, it was within England’s range, meaning this time there will not even be the almost mandatory last-four place for New Zealand in an International Cricket Council tournament.