Moeen leads England to 166-4 against New Zealand in World Cup semi-final
Moeen leads England to 166-4 against New Zealand in World Cup semi-final
Moeen leads England to 166-4 against New Zealand in World Cup semi-final

ABU DHABI, Nov 10, 2021 (AFP) – Moeen Ali smashed an unbeaten 51 to steer England to a challenging 166 for four against New Zealand in the first semi-final of the Twenty20 World Cup on Wednesday.

England lost their openers including Jos Buttler for 29, lbw off Ish Sodhi, after being invited to bat first as Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson won an all-important toss in Abu Dhabi.

But Moeen hit back with his 37-ball knock and put on a key partnership of 63 with Dawid Malan, who hit 41, for the third wicket.

Pace bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult kept a tight leash in the first three overs before Buttler smashed two successive boundaries.

Jonny Bairstow also got a couple of fours but did not look comfortable after being promoted to open in place of the injured Jason Roy.

Adam Milne replaced fellow quick Boult from one end to break through as he got Bairstow out for 13 off 17 balls with Williamson taking a sharp catch at mid-off.

In-form Buttler tried to rebuild but an attempt to reverse sweep leg-spinner Ish Sodhi got him trapped lbw for 29 off 24 deliveries.

The opener, who moved past Pakistan’s Babar Azam as the leading batsman in the tournament with 269 runs, reviewed the call but replays suggested the ball would have hit his off stump.

The left-handed Malan, who was dropped on 10 by wicketkeeper Devon Conway off Jimmy Neesham, hit the first six of the innings off Southee in the 16th over but departed next ball caught behind.

But Moeen launched an attack as he hit Sodhi for a six and then smashed Milne for two hits over the fence.

Liam Livingstone hit 17 off 10 balls before departing and Moeen completed his first fifty of the tournament with a boundary off Neesham.

The winners will face either Australia or Pakistan in Sunday’s final in Dubai.

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