DELHI, India – Fearless is a term often used to describe this England team in one-day cricket over the past 12 months and they fully justified the moniker in reaching a second World T20 final in Delhi on Wednesday night.
They were meant to be the side in awe of their unbeaten opponents but another composed, controlled display with the ball was followed by a run chase full of dominance.
New Zealand had swept all before them going into this match but they were confronted by an English side that has laid the marker for this tournament in playing a brand of cricket that 12 months ago was some way beyond them.
The days of wilting under pressure and being dictated to in one-day cricket look to be gone, a marked change in fortunes and philosophy borne out of the New Zealand psyche and shaped by last year’s series victory over the same opponents.
Instead this England outfit is now doing all the running and making the rest of the world dance to their own tune.
Jason Roy and Alex Hales exemplified this with the bat as they decimated a Kiwi attack bursting at the seams with praise for its potency in Indian conditions.
The pair was not confronted by the biggest of totals in chasing 154 for victory but the manner in which they met the challenge head on typifies the belief and ability that runs through this side.
Their partnership of 82 was also significant in showing that England is no longer ever content.
Previously they would have approached such targets with a mindset that was far more focused on preserving wickets and ticking the scoreboard over with no real urgency.
Much like against South Africa, however, these two put their team on the front foot from the off, making sure the onus instantly shifted on Kane Williamson and his beleaguered set of bowlers unfamiliar with this kind of punishment.
From a New Zealand perspective it was brutal. From an England one it was beautiful.
It was also unrelenting, New Zealand never given a chance to settle and bid to rein England’s run making in.
On the other hand, Eoin Morgan’s men managed this perfectly with the ball in their hands as their much improved bowling attack turned the screw and always looked a threat.
Backed up by some superb ground fielding and boundary riding, England were sending a clear warning to potential final opponents West Indies and India.
The accustomed bump in the road of losing Hales for a stunning 78 was not greeted with collapse, despite Morgan perishing the very next ball.
England teams of old would have surely crumbled at the mere thought of such a situation but as Joe Root and Jos Buttler took up the reins a sense of calm assuredness was left in the place of what previously would have been a filthy hangover, heads heavy with inevitable disappointment.
In its place was a fresh faced, dismissive end to proceedings as both batsmen dismantled Sodhi 22 off the 17th over that left them in need of just a single for victory.
With an archetypal stiff upper lip England mixed a gentlemanly fight with an ambition and flair usually not associated with their cricket and in response the crowd lapped it up.
It is no mean feat for an English sporting outfit to be so wildly cheered by a neutral crowd such is the country’s penchant for playing within themselves, paralysed by a fear of failure.
What it leaves is a group of players deserving of increasing acclaim and the f-word that once seemed fitting for this team has been reversed. Because in this bold new approach it is England whose measured, yet brazen, approach makes them the team to be fearful of.