ANOTHER batting masterclass from specialist Eoin Morgan helped England cruise into the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 last night with a three-wicket victory over New Zealand in St Lucia.
Irish-born Morgan top scored for England for the third time in this tournament with a quickfire 40 off 34 balls as his 52-run partnership with all-rounder Luke Wright (24) ensured England surpassed the Kiwis’ total of 149-6 with five balls to spare.
It meant Paul Collingwood’s men topped Group E with a 100 per cent record in the Super Eights, while Pakistan, who earlier beat South Africa by 14 runs, join them in the last four by virtue of a better run rate.
Pakistan’s earlier victory meant Collingwood’s men were already assured of a semi-final spot before a ball was bowled, but the skipper knew that a defeat by 30 runs or more would promote New Zealand to the top of the group in their place and probably pair England with favourites Australia in the last four.
The Kiwis won an important toss but the England bowlers put them under pressure early – Tim Bresnan’s variation of pace trapping Jesse Ryder for nine, before spinner Graeme Swann (2-31) saw off Brendan McCullum (33) and Aaron Redmond (16). Ross Taylor (44) and Scott Styris (31) put on 62 to lead the Kiwis to a reasonable total before Stuart Broad struck for respectable figures of 2-33.
But, as proved by Pakistan earlier in the day, the target of 150 was more than gettable on this pitch and Michael Lumb led a fast start in reply. While Craig Kieswetter (15) and the recalled Ravi Bopara (9) failed to make inroads, the Hampshire man hit 32 off 21 balls to keep England in control.
Captain Collingwood could only add three before Morgan, Wright, and then Bresnan (23no from 11), guided England home.
Pietersen becomes father to baby boy
BATTING hero Kevin Pietersen has vowed to return to the Caribbean for England’s World Twenty20 semi-final on Thursday after his wife Jessica gave birth to a baby son yesterday.
Pietersen who flew back to attend the birth, will stay with wife and child for a “couple of days” before heading back. “This really is the most amazing experience of my life,” he said.