Jason Roy is slowly but surely building a smash-the-ball-to-bits-in-the-Powerplay reputation. Having thumped the South Africa bowlers to smithereens in a Super 10 match at the Wankhede, Roy brought his see-ball-hit-ball abilities to the semifinal of the ICC World T20, to take England into the final at the Eden Gardens at expense of New Zealand.
Coming into this match unbeaten and in top, top form, New Zealand were given the opportunity to do what they like doing best – bat first, post a total and ask their bowlers to defend. However, their batsmen, on a decent wicket to bat on at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi, got stuck in the middle, failed to go smash-bang in the final overs and could only manage 153/8 in 20 overs.
The match was not over, considering the New Zealand bowlers, particularly the spinners, have been so good at defending totals, but Roy came out like a man possessed, hitting boundaries left, right and centre to take England to an as comfortable-as-they-come seven-wicket victory with 17 balls to spare.
Early wickets, on a pitch with a green tinge to it and was coming on nicely enough onto the bat, was the only way New Zealand were going to make a game of this. But, unfortunately, for them they ran into a Jason Roy in the mood. The right-hander, who scored 43 from 16 balls against South Africa to help England on their way to a 230 chase, started it all off with four boundaries off Corey Anderson in the first over – two of them streaky, two of them beauties.
The boundaries just kept coming from there with Alex Hales, a dasher in his own right, just chipping in with a boundary here or there. Of the 82 runs that Roy and Hales put on together for the first wicket, the latter score 60 of those, with England scoring 67 runs in the Powerplay, with Roy on 49 from 25 balls at that point.
Inevitably, it was a New Zealand spinner – Mitchell Santner – who picked up the first wicket, dismissing Hales (20, 19b, 1x4, 1x6), who tried to, but could not, clear long-on.
Roy, though, stayed in the path to England glory, keeping that scoreboard moving at a rate of knots, to bring the equation down to well below six runs an over. Again, inevitably, it was a spinner – this time Ish Sodhi – who gave New Zealand a sniff in this game, with the leg-spinner picking up two wickets in two balls, of Roy (78, 44b, 11x4, 2x6) and Eoin Morgan. Roy, coming down the track, missed a straight delivery that stayed a touch low to see his stumps take a spin, before Morgan was trapped smack-bang in front of the wicket for his second golden duck in this WT20.
At the fall of the two wickets, England needed just 44 runs from 46 balls, and with Joe Root (27 n.o., 22b, 3x4) and Jos Buttler (32 n.o., 17b, 2x4, 3x6) in the middle, there was never really any doubt of the outcome.
The New Zealand innings, like the England one, began pretty well with Martin Guptill (15, 12b, 3x4), typically, getting off to a fast start, before Colin Munro and Kane Williamson stitched together a nice partnership of 74 from 8.2 overs that seemed to set New Zealand on their way to a big score, something close to even 200.
However, neither Munro (46, 32b, 7x4, 1x6) nor Williamson (32, 28b, 3x4, 1x6) could carry on and make a big score, and with the New Zealand middle order coming unstuck, England took control in the middle overs, before grabbing the game completely in the final four overs, where they conceded just 20 runs, while picking up five wickets, with Ben Stokes (4-0-26-3) doing most of the damage.
That setup a comfortable chase, and England will now face either India or West Indies in the World T20 final in Kolkata Sunday.
Watch the highlights of the England vs New Zealand semifinal HERE