Before the semifinal, New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson’s tactics had won praise. His accurate field settings caught the eye but it was his instinct to bring on his best bowlers in difficult situations that was seen as his USP.
But on Wednesday, at the packed Feroz Shah Kotla, Williamson’s luck ran out and his team lost the opportunity to have a shot at the final.
Chasing a modest 153, England opener and Man-of-the-Match Jason Roy (78 -- 44 balls) smashed the bowling to get his first T20I half century. While Roy dominated the seamers, England made short work of even the spinners, who until the semifinal had hogged the limelight.
Having remained unbeaten throughout the WT20, New Zealand ruined the chance to put a big total on board as Williamson, Colin Munro and Corey Anderson all fell at important junctures to let England tighten their grip. So far, Williamson got the credit for New Zealand’s success, but he was the one to be blamed for ending their dream.
A day earlier, England skipper Eoin Morgan had said he would be looking for synchronisation between the batting and bowling. Having struggled to get both departments firing in the previous four games, Morgan must have breathed a sigh of relief to see his bowlers restrict the opposition to 153. For favourites New Zealand, almost everything had worked, but against England their batting woes proved costly.
After a 74-run stand with Munro, and having put on 89 in the first 10 overs, Williamson was expected to bat a little longer. Morgan had been denied the upper hand despite getting Martin Guptill early as his bowlers failed to bowl on one side and were getting hammered by Williamson and Munro.
Morgan had used Adil Rashid to break New Zealand’s momentum but after one over, he too was deciphered by the Kiwi pair. Morgan had no option but to try spinner Moeen Ali.
With five fielders on the leg side, Williamson tried to go over cover against the spin. Strike one as New Zealand lost their second wicket on 91. It was now for Munro to take the lead. Despite getting a set Williamson, Morgan still was worried about who will bowl against the dangerous Munro. Liam Plunkett was called and Morgan’s hit-and-miss method worked again.
Plunkett had earlier received a beating from Munro by bowling towards his leg, and this time, he bowled outside off. Munro got a thick edge. A 17-run partnership had began to take off but Munro’s irresponsible stroke broke the momentum in the 14th over.
In other venues, pitches gave the Kiwi spinners a chance. But in Delhi, they threw away wickets to dig their grave. The wicket was true and a score of 180 would have been a fighting total. This has been New Zealand’s story throughout --- failing to capitalise on the middle-order partnerships and throwing away wickets.
New Zealand got another chance to claw their way back thanks to Corey Anderson, who added 27 runs with Ross Taylor. But this time Taylor as well as Luke Ronchi and Anderson fell in the space of five runs. The game was over for the Kiwis right there.