CHESTER-LE-STREET, England (AP) — England qualified for the Cricket World Cup semifinals for the first time in 27 years on Wednesday with a 119-run win over New Zealand, which is also effectively heading to the playoffs despite a third straight loss.
Jonny Bairstow’s second century in a row helped England to 305-8 off its 50 overs, and the Black Caps never looked like chasing down the target after the run-outs of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor in successive overs left them 69-4.
New Zealand was eventually dismissed for 186 and leapfrogged in the standings by England, which will end the group stage in third place. The tournament host will play in the second semifinal, at Edgbaston on July 11, against the team that finishes in second place — currently India.
England, which entered the tournament as the world’s top-ranked team, marches into the semis following morale-restoring wins over India and New Zealand back to back.
New Zealand, which had lost to Pakistan and Australia before heading to Chester-le-Street for its group closer, is set to play in the first semifinal in Manchester on Tuesday when it will have to find momentum from somewhere.
New Zealand is currently two points ahead of fifth-place Pakistan, whose final group game is against Bangladesh on Friday, but is highly unlikely to lose its place in the top four because of a far superior net run-rate than its rival.
England enjoyed two strokes of fortune in a match it needed to win to guarantee a semifinal spot.
The first was winning the toss on a pitch that slowed and broke up as a sunny day wore on, making batting increasingly difficult.
Bairstow and fellow opener Jason Roy (60 off 61 balls) enjoyed a third straight century stand before it was broken at 123, giving England a platform for a shot at a massive total.
But from 194-1, England lost Joe Root (24), Bairstow and Jos Buttler (11) in a 19-ball spell to slump to 214-4, and the boundaries began to dry up.
Eoin Morgan’s 42 off 40 balls helped to inch his team past 300, but New Zealand was back in the contest after restricting England to only 111 runs in its last 20 overs.
That was until the early loss of openers Henry Nicholls (0) and Martin Guptill (8) was compounded by Williamson — New Zealand’s rock and captain — getting sent back to the pavilion by the harshest of ways.
Taylor played a straight drive that glanced off the fingertips of bowler Mark Wood and onto the stumps, with Williamson out of his ground at the non-striker’s end. After a lengthy look at the replays, Williamson was given out for 27.
Taylor departed for 28 the next over after choosing to go for a risky second with the ball heading to Adil Rashid at fine leg. Rashid’s throw was pinpoint and Jos Buttler removed the bails with Taylor short.
Once a 54-run partnership between Tom Latham (57) and Jimmy Neesham (19) was ended, New Zealand was simply delaying the inevitable by mostly blocking out to ensure the team’s net run rate wasn’t too affected.
The delay was extended by the arrival of a streaker, wearing nothing but a green hat, who danced in front of batsmen Latham and Mitchell Santner and then managed to initially evade security staff who took a long time to react.
The English ended a run of five straight losses to New Zealand at World Cups, the latest being a humiliating eight-wicket defeat in 2015 that led to their group-stage exit and a makeover of the one-day game in England.
It has resulted in England reaching the semifinals for the first time since 1992, when it lost to Pakistan in the title match.
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