BRISBANE (AFP): England held their nerve to see off a strong New Zealand challenge and win their Twenty20 World Cup clash by 20 runs at the Gabba in Brisbane on Tuesday.
A Glenn Phillips-inspired New Zealand looked to be heading for victory until England fought back to claim a nail-biting win and rescue their title challenge.
Captain Jos Buttler smashed 73 off 47 balls to lead England to 179-6 in their Twenty20 World Cup clash against New Zealand at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Buttler, who was dropped twice during his entertaining knock, passed former captain Eoin Morgan as the highest run-scorer for England in T20 internationals.
But the current English skipper could be left to regret a late clatter of wickets which put a possible score of 200 out of reach in a must-win game for his men.
Buttler won the toss and chose to bat in a match the English realistically need to win to stay in contention for a semi-final place.
New Zealand top Group 1 on five points, with England slipping to fourth after wins for Australia on Monday night and Sri Lanka earlier Tuesday.
The English openers started the innings brilliantly, racing to 48-0 at the end of the six-over powerplay.
Alex Hales, who went agonisingly close to being bowled in Trent Boult’s first over, struck the ball incredibly cleanly, racing to his half century in 39 balls.
But one ball after edging Mitch Santner to the boundary to bring up his 50, the New Zealand spinner pushed one wide which the advancing Hales missed, Devon Conway completing the stumping.
Buttler had a reprieve on 40 when Daryl Mitchell dropped a simple catch on the square-leg boundary, the England captain then smashing two fours in succession off the unlucky Lockie Ferguson, before bringing up his half century off 35 balls.
Buttler stayed positive but New Zealand kept taking key wickets to keep the target manageable.