England thrash New Zealand to reach World Cup semi-finals as Jonny Bairstow shines

Eoin Morgan reflected on a “pretty cool” feeling after leading England into the semi-finals of the World Cup following their 119-run thrashing of New Zealand.

England's Jonny Bairstow celebrates his century.

It was not quite do-or-die for England at Chester-le-Street but they made certain of qualification beyond the group stage and a first last-four appearance in the tournament since 1992 with a commanding display.

Jonny Bairstow followed up his 111 against India with a supreme 106 from 99 balls to underpin a total of 305-8, which New Zealand never threatened to overhaul as they were all out for 186 in 45 overs.

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England’s campaign had been left on a knife edge after three defeats in seven matches but the manner in which they have seen off India and New Zealand left Morgan thoroughly satisfied.

He said: “It’s pretty cool, pretty awesome. The way in which we played is more satisfying than the actual win.

“I suppose we have rode the roller coaster of playing well, playing terrible and playing good again.

“If we had lost, it would have been drawn out for the next couple of days, so it wasn’t really worth thinking about.

“I think we do tap into what we have achieved the last two games. It’s been extremely important to our campaign.

“It is obviously the reason that we have got through and we have been able to play some of our best cricket because of that.

“So tapping into that, identifying what we did well and if that still remains the same priority going into the semi-final, which I think it will.”

England are guaranteed a third-place finish and a meeting next Thursday with either India or Australia at Edgbaston, a ground where they have won their last 10 fixtures in all formats. Morgan added: “It’s a place that we really like playing.

“If we had a choice of where we would play our group-stage games, Edgbaston, The Oval and Trent Bridge would probably be the three grounds where we would have played the nine games, if it was just your own World Cup.

“So it is comforting that we are going to one of those three grounds.”

Bairstow and Jason Roy once again flourished at the top of the order, laying a solid platform with a 123-run opening stand, the 10th time their union has exceeded three figures and the third in a row.

They average 62.45 together, making them among the most profitable partnerships in the history of one-day internationals.

Asked whether their presence at the crease eases their England team-mates in the dressing room, Morgan responded: “It is not really calmness, it is more excitement.

“The guys are buzzing, laughing, smiling at how ridiculous some of the shots the two guys are playing. Good balls being hit for four or six, how difficult they are to bowl at. You have got to laugh at it.

“We are not asking our guys to average 50 and strike it at 120, that is unrealistic.

“But pushing the ceiling as to what guys would normally do was part of the process in which we have gone through probably the first two years of the four-year cycle.

“But looking at where the guys are at now, it is incredible, really, that the talent they possess and actually what they can achieve on a consistent basis.”

Bairstow became the first Englishman to record back-to-back centuries in the World Cup, a superb innings containing 15 fours and the only six of the match.

He said at the presentation ceremony: “Some people are going to be sore after two gruelling games. There is bound to be some soreness, but there will be a lot of smiles this evening.”

Yorkshireman Bairstow’s opening partnership with the fit-again Roy (60) represents England’s ace in the hole, with the duo scoring their third consecutive three-figure stand and forging an advantage the Black Caps never wrestled back.

Things stalled once they exited, England reaching 194-1 from 30 overs and losing seven for 111 thereafter – but New Zealand’s reply never threatened and they were brushed aside for 186.

Dangerman Kane Williamson was run out backing up via the tiniest of touches off Mark Wood’s outstretched hand, with the seamer also helping himself to 3-34.

New Zealand are all but certain of their place in the knockouts, courtesy of a vastly superior net run-rate compared to Pakistan, and Williamson is eyeing a clean slate.

“If we are fortunate to be in a semi-final, then we do have a little bit of a break,” he said.

“If you are in a knockout stage where it’s a semi-final opportunity, anything can happen. We know that we haven’t put out our best performance yet and we know when we do it gives us the best chance of beating anybody, without a doubt.

“It is is important for us to perhaps have a couple of days away.”