New Zealand beaten by England but Colin Munro knock enough to guide hosts to T20 series final
Opener hits England attack, equalling sixth-fastest half-century of all time in cricket's shortest form
An aggressive Colin Munro belted New Zealand into the Twenty20 tri-series final against Australia despite England claiming their final round-robin match by two runs in Hamilton on Sunday.
Munro plundered the England attack at the top of the New Zealand innings, equalling the sixth-fastest half-century of all time in cricket's shortest form as he raced past 50 in just 18 deliveries.
England, on the back of an unbeaten 80 by returning captain Eoin Morgan, posted 194-7 after being sent into bat. New Zealand, with Martin Guptill adding 62 and Hong Kong-born Mark Chapman unbeaten on 37, made 192-4 in reply.
The narrow two-run winning margin was a bittersweet result for Morgan. It provided a confidence-boosting first win in the series but England needed to win by 20 runs to overtake New Zealand on overall run-rate to face unbeaten Australia in Wednesday's final.
New Zealand passed that target at the start of the 18th over but the groundwork had been laid by opener Munro's whirlwind 57 in a big-hitting innings that included seven sixes and three fours.
"Not that good," Morgan said when asked how he felt. "Given the start they got off to, with Colin Munro and Martin Guptill in that sort of form, there's a bit of dew around, the ball skidding on, it was quite difficult for our attack.
"We played our best game today. Good enough to win the game but not good enough to go through to the final. We just haven't been good enough throughout this T20 campaign."
After New Zealand's rollicking start, England spinners Adil Rashid and Liam Dawson quietened the pace through the middle of the innings.
New Zealand were 77-0 after six overs when Rashid came on and quickly claimed Munro's wicket. Seven overs later, when Rashid was bowled out and Dawson had claimed the prized wicket of Kane Williamson, New Zealand were 108 for two with Guptill and Chapman primed to finish the innings off.
"At the top of the order, Colin Munro was brilliant," said Williamson, who also played tribute to the role played by Guptill, a century-maker against Australia two days ago. "Martin played so well through that middle period to suck it up after whacking it to all parts a few days ago, to do what the team required to get as close as we could to that total."
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Dawson missed a caught-and-bowled chance from Guptill on 25, who then lashed out to reach 62 off 47 balls before he was dismissed in the 17th over.
England captain Morgan, who missed their last two matches because of a groin strain, hit six sixes and four fours in a crucial innings that ensured his side posted a competitive score.
He went to the middle in the fourth over when England were two for 24 and featured in a 93-run, nine-over stand with Dawid Malan who made 53 - his fourth half-century in five international Twenty20 innings.
Opener Jason Roy made a flying start to the innings with 21 off 13 balls, while Dawson and David Willey with 10 each were the only other players to reach double figures.
For New Zealand, Trent Boult took three wickets at an expensive 50 runs while Tim Southee was economical with 2-22.
Updated: February 18, 2018 03:20 PM