World T20 cricket: Luke Wright powers England to victory
|ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights, Pallekele:|
|England 149-4 (18.5 ovs) bt New Zealand 148-6 (20 ovs) by 6 wickets|
Luke Wright cracked five sixes in his 76 as England beat New Zealand by six wickets in the Super Eights to revive their World Twenty20 hopes.
England were much improved with ball as well as bat, with Steve Finn taking 3-16 as they kept New Zealand to 148-6.
The match remained in the balance as England reached 60-2 after 10 overs.
But Wright, assisted by Eoin Morgan's 30, timed his assault perfectly, smashing four sixes in seven balls as England won with seven balls to spare.
But Wright's second fifty in four games keeps them in with a chance of reaching the semi-finals.
Sri Lanka's victory over the Windies means all four teams in the group can still qualify from the final round of Super Eight matches on Monday.
England can beat Sri Lanka and still not qualify if West Indies thrash New Zealand, but Stuart Broad's side could also lose and get through if they avoid a heavy defeat and the Kiwis beat the Windies.
England changed their bowling attack by bringing in Hampshire spinner Danny Briggs and Tim Bresnan for Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach.
And the result was a disciplined bowling display as England took wickets at regular intervals to deny New Zealand momentum.
Finn struck twice is his first two overs to remove Martin Guptill leg before wicket and the big-hitting Brendon McCullum, who was caught at third man.
Rob Nicol, Kane Williamson and captain Ross Taylor all made it into double figures, but could only muster four boundaries in 61 balls between them as England continued to dominate proceedings.
James Franklin provided the injection of energy New Zealand badly needed, helping himself to 16 runs off Briggs's last over and 10 off two balls from Bresnan.
Nathan McCullum smacked Stuart Broad for two sixes as New Zealand plundered 17 off the penultimate over, but England hit back well in the last, with Franklin run out and only seven runs added to the score.
For the first time in the tournament, England managed to survive the first over unscathed and were motoring by the end of the second after three boundaries from Alex Hales.
At the other end, however, Craig Kieswetter's struggles continued as he scratched around for four runs before being bowled through the gate by Daniel Vettori.
The Somerset wicketkeeper has made just 39 runs in four innings and may now come under pressure for his place from Nottinghamshire's Michael Lumb, with Jonny Bairstow able to take the gloves.
Hales followed for 22 in an almost identical manner as he failed to connect with a huge heave at Nathan McCullum to leave England on 38-2.
With such a modest target, there was no need for Wright and Morgan to be reckless from the off and the duo played themselves in while picking up ones and twos.
Wright chose the 15th over to break the shackles, creaming two sixes off Tim Southee, and another two off part-time spinner Rob Nicol in the next.
Morgan was brilliantly caught at long-on by Doug Bracewell in the 17th over, but by then England's required run rate was below one run per ball.
And by the time Wright slapped Bracewell to extra cover England only needed seven from nine balls.
Bairstow pulled the next delivery for four and, three singles later, the victory was secured.
After the match New Zealand captain Ross Taylor expressed his frustration over Finn's tendancy to inadvertantly dislodge the bails with his leg in his bowling action.
It happened three times during the innings, with the umpires calling a dead ball on each occasion, even after Franklin had driven Finn for four.
England's players were later fined 10% of their match fees for maintaining a slow over-rate, with captain Broad fined 20%.