Half-centuries from Jos Buttler and Alex Hales helped England to 179 for six in their crunch T20 World Cup showdown against New Zealand in Brisbane.
Buttler was cagey early on and dropped on eight and 40 but he clicked into gear and contributed 73 off 47 balls in a match England need to win to realistically keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Hales’ 52 off 40 balls in an opening stand worth 81 laid a platform for England, who elected to remain unchanged after their shock Ireland defeat but rejigged a misfiring batting order with mixed results.
We set @BLACKCAPS 1⃣8⃣0⃣ to win
Have we got enough? 🤔
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 1, 2022
After Hales was stumped off Mitchell Santner, who surmised the England opener was advancing and threw one out wider, Moeen Ali leapfrogged Dawid Malan but made just five off six balls before holing out.
Liam Livingstone flickered with 20 off 14 balls, clattering Tim Southee for six and ramping Lockie Ferguson for four, but he had his stumps knocked back when he tried to repeat the trick off the latter.
Harry Brook, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran were all promoted above Malan, who only faced the last ball of the innings and scampered for three after a Santner mis-field.
New Zealand, who are well-placed in this Super 12s group after two wins and a washout in their three matches so far, were underwhelming in the field after being asked to bowl first.
England have preferred to chase in recent years but a used pitch – this was the third match on this Gabba wicket – altered their thinking, with Buttler and Hales having to survive a few nervy moments.
Buttler thought he was out when driving off the back foot, with opposite number Kane Williamson leaping to take what looked like a fine catch only for replays showed he had spilled the chance on his landing.
Daryl Mitchell put down a far more straightforward chance when Buttler was on 40 off 30 balls and from there, the England captain accelerated by unfurling some trademark power hitting and deft touches.
He was run out in the penultimate over, after a mix-up with Stokes, but his efforts went a long way to helping England add 102 in the last 10 overs against a side who eliminated them at the semi-final stage of this tournament last year.