Cricket: England in ‘good place’ after T20 Super 12 victory over New Zealand, says Buttler
Defeat against the Black Caps would likely have led to elimination at the Super 12s stage but Buttler marked his 100th T20 international with 73 off 47 balls, benefitting from being dropped twice.
Buttler, who in this knock overtook Eoin Morgan to become England’s leading run-scorer in the format, underpinned his side’s 179 for six before a disciplined bowling performance closed out a 20-run win.
England head to Sydney next and still must beat Sri Lanka on Saturday, but they are favourites to pip hosts and defending champions Australia to a semi-final spot owing to a superior net run-rate.
“It’s a big relief to be heading into that last game knowing we have a chance of progressing,” he said. “That would be a tough flight if we’d lost here, especially, so we go there really excited.
“I think the team is in a really good place after this. In a must-win game, to come out and play with freedom and express ourselves and show off our talent, I was really proud of the character we showed.
“We’ve played a lot of cricket over a short amount of time recently but certainly that felt like such a long break (they have not played since losing to Ireland last Wednesday).
“We were desperate to get back out there and show how good we are as a team. We’re really dangerous and have got match-winners. Having not quite played at our best we were desperate to show that here.”
Defeat to near neighbours Ireland followed by a washout against Australia, both at the MCG, meant England could ill-afford another slip-up but they have moved into the top-two of their group.
They are level on points with New Zealand and Australia going into the final round of group games but England’s Ashes rivals have a significantly inferior net run-rate.
That will be the determining factor if all three teams win their next match while also counting in England’s favour is they play a day after New Zealand-Ireland and Australia-Afghanistan.
“We’ve just got to wait and see what happens but there is a bit of a benefit playing that last game to know exactly what is required of us,” said Buttler.