New Delhi: England stormed into the final of the ICC World Twenty20 with a comprehensive seven- wicket victory over New Zealand, riding on opener Jason Roy's blazing 78 on Wednesday.
After restricting New Zealand to 153 for eight with an impressive death bowling effort, it was then turn of right- handed Roy to pulverise a potent Black Caps attack into submission with a superlative 78 off 44 balls as the winners finished the match in only 17.1 overs.
Roy, who had set the tone with a 16-ball-43 against South Africa, produced an exhilarating array of shots to knock the stuffing out of the New Zealand attack, which had looked potent till now.
In all, Roy hit 11 boundaries and two sixes. He teed off with four boundaries in the first over bowled by Corey Anderson and the graph only went upwards after that.
The 25-year-old Surrey batsman literally slapped fast bowler Adam Milne for a six over long-off. The boundaries just kept coming as his 50 came off 26 balls with nine boundaries and a six. The team's 100 came in 10.2 overs and New Zealand by then had been all but knocked out.
Roy's innings was an example of perfect hand-eye co- ordination with minimalistic footwork against fast bowlers.
With no lateral movement, it was easy for the South Africa-born batsman to hit through the line. To make matters worse, he did not let left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner settle down hitting him for two boundaries in his first over.
Such was Roy's dominance that his opening partner, the normally attacking Alex Hales (20) looked pale in comparison during their 82-run first wicket stand.
By the time, Roy was bowled missing the line of an Ish Sodhi leg-break, England had more or less pocketed the match with only 44 runs adift of the target.
Eoin Morgan (0) was adjudged leg before first ball but Joe Root (27 not out) and Jos Buttler (32 not out off 17 balls) guided the team home with minimum fuss. The last 28 runs came off seven deliveries as the England duo finished with a flourish.
Having played some brilliant cricket at the league stage, New Zealand under Kane Williamson could not deliver the killer blow when it mattered the most as they were out of the contest after the first 10 overs of their batting innings.
Their bowling held the key throughout but as per law of averages, they were to have a bad day which unfortunately came in the semi-finals.
Earlier, New Zealand batsmen frittered away a fantastic start in front of some splendid death bowling by England to post a below par 153 for eight after being put into bat.
The England bowlers came under the pump during the first 10 overs giving away 89 runs but were once again brilliant at the death conceding only 64 runs in the last 10 overs to stop New Zealand from setting an imposing target.
Much of the credit must go to Ben Stokes (3/26 in 4 overs) for his wonderful bowling at the death and was ably complemented by Chris Jordan (1/24 in 4 overs) as seven wickets fell in the back-10.
In between them, the duo bowled 23 dot balls, which meant 3.5 overs went without runs.
The foundation of the Black Caps' innings was laid by the 74-run stand for the second wicket between left-hander Colin Munro (46 off 32 balls) and skipper Kane Williamson (32 off 28 balls). Their style of batting was in contrast to each other yet entertaining in its essence.
While Munro was more unorthodox and adventurous in his shot selection, every shot that Williamson hit were copybook ones.
Once both of them departed, it was Corey Anderson (28 off 23 balls), who tried to keep up the pace but didn't succeed entirely.
Anderson hit Adil Rashid (0/33 in 4 overs) for a straight driven boundary with New Zealand maintaining an 8 per over run-rate till the 15th over. He then hit Liam Plunkett (1/38 in 4 overs) for a six over deep mid-wicket but was finally holed out in the deep by Chris Jordan off Stokes' bowling.
Earlier, Martin Guptill (15) started on a positive note getting couple of boundaries off David Willey but his flashy batting cost him dearly in the left-arm seamer's next over as he tried another heave only to edge one to Buttler behind the stumps.
In came left-handed Munro and hit a flurry of boundaries. With an unusually crouched stance and a bottom-handed grip, Munro stepped out to collect his first boundary off Willey but actually broke loose in the final over of the powerplay bowled by Liam Plunkett.
A straight drive followed by a couple of boundaries behind the square brought up the New Zealand 50 within first six overs.
Skipper Williamson played himself at the other end with wristy shots off his hips to get a couple of boundaries. The stand out shot was an inside out lofted cover drive off Ben Stokes that went for as the first six of the match.
Munro was not ready to be left behind as he reverse swept leg-spinner Rashid for a six while Williamson played a deft cut shot. The 50-run partnership was completed in 36 balls.
New Zealand raced off to 89 in 10 overs before Williamson was out scoring a polished 32 off 28 balls that had three fours and a six. It was off-spinner Moeen Ali who got one to grip and hold as the Kiwi skipper failed to check his shot. The ball ballooned up and Ali ran backwards to take well- judged catch of hos own bowling.
Munro-Williamson stand yielded 74 runs in 8.2 overs.
The 100 came in the 13th over with Corey Anderson joining Munro. Munro's baptism came to an end when he slashed Plunkett only to find Ali at third man having scored 46 off 32 balls with seven fours and a six.
But Anderson made the competitive score look challenging with some lusty blows. Once he was gone, New Zealand innings just fell apart.