England, the most experienced Twenty20 playing nation has been knocked out of the tournament after a narrow defeat to New Zealand at Durban. Paul Collingwood’s team had great moments with both the ball and the bat but failed to seize them to win the match and stay alive in the tournament. The Kiwis were rescued out of troubled waters by the experienced and cool Scott Styris and Craig McMillan in the first half. In the second half, Shane Bond brought curtains to England’s chase with a stunning penultimate over that conceded just four runs which also saw three wickets go down. England found themselves short of the 165-run target by just 5 runs.
New Zealand found itself in deep trouble after having asked to bat first. They were tottering along at 31 for 4 with England’s three fast bowlers firing up on all cylinders. After a slightly watchful start, Scott Styris began to explode to get things back on track in the company of Craig McMillan. Three consecutive sixes off Dimitri Mascarenhas from Styris got the momentum in the innings. Just when Styris was setting himself for a big score, he was done in by a direct hit that still had NZ in a spot of bother at 91 for 5 in the 13th. Styris helped himself to 42 from 31 with four sixes. McMillan went onto make 57 in 31 with 3 fours and 4 sixes but fell at the wrong time putting halt to New Zealand’s progress. Darren Maddy was the bowler removing McMillan and a few balls later got the big fish – Jacob Oram. New Zealand were restricted towards the end to 164 for 9. England’s best bowler Flintoff bowled just three overs in which he gave only 11 runs at the cost of a wicket.
There was a problem for England early on with Vikram Solanki forced to don the wicket keeping gloves in the absence of Matt Prior who was ruled out with a broken thumb during practice. Solanki opened the batting with Maddy to get England off to a terrific start before Daniel Vettori put an end to the 62-run opening stand in the 8th over. Solanki was the first to go making 24 from 25 while Maddy followed him back in the dug out after a couple of overs after getting run out. Maddy had by then scintillated the crowd with his 31-ball 50 that had 4 fours and two huge sixes. England were 80 for 2 in 10.4 overs and soon found themselves at 104 for 5 losing all the big three – Collingwood, Pietersen and Flintoff in the space of nine deliveries! Craig McMillan’s breathtaking catch at mid wicket saw an early exit of Collingwood which was followed with a counter attack from KP, two fours and a six off consecutive deliveries of Chris Martin. But the turning point of the match perhaps came in the next over when Pietersen brought out an ugly reverse sweep that saw his furniture get disturbed by a clever Daniel Vettori. In the same over, Andrew Flintoff was run out leaving England in dire straits with 61 to win from 38 balls.
A couple of let offs to Owais Shah along with some lusty blows from Luke Wright gave the scare to the Kiwis. With 20 to win from two overs with still five wickets in hand, England were likely to register a win. But Shane Bond had other ideas, a first ball run out of Owais Shah (21 from 16) followed up with the big wicket of Mascarenhas got the equation to 19 from 8. In the fifth ball of the over, Bond struck with a full toss that was played straight into the hands of sweeper covers that saw the danger man off – Luke Wright (24 in 17 with a four and a six). That superb over from Bond made it 16 to get from the final over from Mark Gillespie, who held his nerve giving away only 10 though he was up against two decent strikers in Stuart Broad and Chris Schofield. Bond and Vettori were the bowling stars with identical figures of 2 for 20 in 4 overs. Craig McMillan was the Man of the Match.