Stand-in England skipper Jos Buttler rued fine margins after his side slumped to their third successive Twenty20 defeat against New Zealand, leaving their chances of reaching the tri-series final in serious doubt.
In their previous two defeats to Australia it was England’s batting that failed them, but on this occasion, on a bouncy Wellington pitch, it was their bowling which was called into question as the Black Caps amassed 196-5.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson struck a match-defining 72, but only after he was handed a reprieve on nought as England seamer Mark Wood failed to hit the stumps with a run out chance from close range.
England started brightly in reply before the consistent loss of wickets stifled progress, meaning the tourists fell 12 runs short. In-form Dawid Malan top scored with 59, while opener Alex Hales struck a quick-fire 47.
“That’s always the way it goes, a bit of luck for Kane and he goes on to become the player of the match,” said Buttler. “It would have been nice to take that chance but games are defined by fine margins the whole time.
“They probably got a few too many, we were just off it a little with the ball. We didn’t put enough pressure on them and gave them 10-15 too many which was the difference in the game. We have to find ways to improve fast.”
New Zealand will clinch a place in the final on 21 February if they beat Australia on Friday. If they lose and England prevail in their second game against the Blacks Caps on Sunday then they will have a mathematical chance of progressing to the final.
Buttler added: “We need a favour from Australia to beat New Zealand. We will see what happens.”