Steven Finn took three wickets and Luke Wright blazed 76 to help England beat New Zealand in Super Eights
Last Updated: 29/09/12 2:33pm
England got their ICC World Twenty20 Super Eights campaign back on track with a commanding six-wicket victory over New Zealand in Pallekele.
In a match the defending champions really had to win to keep alive their hopes of retaining the trophy, England dominated the Black Caps from start to finish, chasing down their 149-run target with seven balls to spare.
Steven Finn (3-16) set the tone with the ball, dismissing dangermen Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor to finish with the best figures by an Englishman in a Twenty20 World Cup.
His efforts helped restrict New Zealand to a below-par total, which was chased down thanks to a record third-wicket partnership between Luke Wright and Eoin Morgan.
Wright, who smashed an unbeaten 99 against Afghanistan in the opening match, struck 76 from 43 balls to put England on the brink of victory while Morgan added 30 from 31.
New Zealand are all-but eliminated after back-to-back Super Eights defeats, while England will qualify for the semi-finals if they beats hosts Sri Lanka at the same venue on Monday.
England made two changes as they attempted to bounce back from successive defeats in the competition with Danny Briggs and Tim Bresnan called up in place of Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach.
Briggs opened the bowling on a dry pitch but it was pace which was to bring England immediate success.
After surviving a run out chance when Jos Buttler threw to the wrong end, Guptill failed to cash in as Finn pinned him lbw to claim a wicket in his opening over for the third time in the tournament.
Brendon McCullum took the attack to Briggs in the third over, dispatching him for back-to-back boundaries down the ground to put the pressure back on the young left-armer.
But Finn removed the dangerous right-hander for 10 in the next over, Luke Wright taking a high catch at third man after McCullum had slashed at a wide, full delivery.
Graeme Swann was introduced after the powerplay period and he claimed an immediate strike when Rob Nicol (11) swatted straight to Jonny Bairstow on the midwicket boundary.
The Black Caps were tottering on 58-3 at the halfway stage in their innings and their plight worsened when Kane Williamson, who had laboured to 17 off 23 balls, edged Briggs through to Craig Kieswetter when attempting a cut.
James Franklin hit New Zealand's first six in the 15th over off Briggs, an over which cost 16 in total and started a late assault from the batting team.
But their progress suffered a major setback when captain Taylor, well-placed on 22 from 23 balls, pulled Finn straight to Hales on the Middlesex seamer's return to the attack.
Franklin (50 off 33) carried on attacking in his absence, reaching his half-century in the final over off just 33 balls to give New Zealand hope. Nathan McCullum helped take 17 off Broad's penultimate over of the innings and finished unbeaten on 16 from just 10 balls.
England made a cautious start in reply with Kieswetter adding just two runs from the opening over, however Hales kicked England's chase into gear by taking Tim Southee's first set of six for 16 - including three boundaries.
The difference in form between England's openers was clear to see and it came as no surprise when, with the pressure building, Kieswetter (four off 14) attempted a rash shot and was bowled by Daniel Vettori.
England's travails against spin continued in the seventh over when an advancing Hales was undone by Nathan McCullum and the Nottinghamshire man saw his stumps disturbed.
Wright and Morgan came together with England wobbling on 38-2 but a counter-attacking partnership put the team well up with the required rate.
Morgan hit a six and a four off Franklin's first and only over and Wright followed suit with two more maximums off the expensive Southee to reach his second half-century of the tournament off just 33 deliveries.
A stunning diving catch from Doug Bracewell prevented Morgan and Wright seeing the job through together, while Wright also fell late on attempting to win the match in a hurry.