SO much for not being able to handle the pressure then. Since England’s World Cup campaign effectively entered the knockout phase, with a defeat in either of their final two group games potentially proving fatal to their hopes of making the last four, Eoin Morgan’s side have produced their best two displays of the tournament. Rack up two more wins, and they will be crowned World champions.

They booked their semi-final spot with a commanding display at Emirates Riverside this afternoon, posting a total of more than 300 for the sixth time in nine World Cup matches before skittling out New Zealand for just 186.

Jonny Bairstow was their batting hero, as he had been at Edgbaston on Sunday, following up his century against India with another three-figure score. With fellow opener Jason Roy also rediscovering his explosive best form at the ideal moment, England’s total of 305-8 might have been even bigger, but still looked more than sufficient on a relatively slow Riverside pitch.

So it proved, with both New Zealand openers departing cheaply and two crucial mid-order run-outs leaving England’s opponents toiling at 69-4. The writing was already on the wall at that stage, and three wickets from Durham paceman Mark Wood helped ensure England triumphed by a whopping 119 runs.

The win sets up a likely semi-final with India, and having beaten Virat Kohli’s side with a bit to spare at the weekend, England head into the last four in a justifiably buoyant mood. They have rediscovered their mojo, along with the aggressive, purposeful style that has been their calling card as they have climbed to the top of the world rankings. In this mood, they know they can beat anyone. Although it still helps if they bat first.

Winning the toss was always going to be crucial with so much at stake today, and having watched his side crumble on the three occasions they had batted second this tournament, Morgan’s face lit up when the fates fell in his favour at Riverside.

In Roy and Bairstow, England possess a pair of openers with the explosive capability of finishing a game before it has really begun, and as they found their groove in the opening hour yesterday, the duo looked like booking a semi-final spot without any of their team-mates needing to get involved.

Roy’s return from injury has galvanised England, and as had been the case against India three days earlier, the opener teamed up with Bairstow to share in a century stand that was a masterpiece of controlled aggression.

Yes, the ball flew to the boundary rope at regular intervals, but save for the very first ball of the game, which saw off-spinner Mitchell Santner whistle one past Roy’s leg-stump, England’s opening duo were never really troubled as they combined to rack up three figures.

They matched each other pretty much shot for shot, bringing up their half-centuries within three balls of each other in the 17th over, and having played so serenely as New Zealand’s bowlers repeatedly dropped too short, there was a sense of great surprise when Roy perished cheaply for 60, chipping an unthreatening ball from James Neesham straight down Santner’s throat at short extra cover.

Joe Root arrived looking to keep the scoreboard ticking over – one outrageous reverse scoop over his right shoulder demolished the Test skipper’s reputation for being too unadventurous to bat so highly in the One-Day game – but after scoring 24 at just shy of a run-a-ball, he feathered a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Tom Latham.

Bairstow was still there though, having brought up his second successive World Cup century in the previous over with a disdainful whip through the leg side as Tim Southee served up a wasteful full toss.

Prior to last weekend’s game against India, Bairstow was agitated at his lack of form, lashing out at critics who were ‘waiting for England to fail’. Two hundreds later, and his smile was as broad as his native Yorkshire’s acres as he waved his bat to the Riverside pavilion. Two World Cup centuries in the space of four days – by means of comparison, that is many as England managed in 16 years between 1987 and 2003.

With Bairstow at the crease, England were looking at posting a total close to 350, but his dismissal with the score at 206-3, as he directed a thick inside-edge into his own stumps, heralded a stutter that meant they briefly looked like failing to reach 300 before a late flurry.

Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes both perished on 11 after failing to find any kind of fluidity, and in the 13 overs between Bairstow’s dismissal and Chris Woakes falling for four with five overs left, England managed just three boundaries.

Not, however, that it mattered. New Zealand’s reply needed the kind of start provided by Bairstow and Roy, but instead the Black Caps lost their first wicket within the opening over, with Woakes pinning Henry Nicholls.

Whereas New Zealand’s bowlers had been profligate in the first half of the England innings, completely misreading a characteristically one-paced Riverside pitch, the England attack were controlled and disciplined from the off.

Even Jofra Archer reined in his blistering pace to prevent offering up any juicy half-volleys, although knocking a couple of miles-per-hour off his delivery speed did not prevent England’s breakthrough star of the tournament from taking his 17th World Cup wicket. It was a scruffy one, with the out-of-form Martin Guptill nicking to Buttler as he looked to glance down the leg-side.

That brought together Kane Williamson, once of Yorkshire, and Ross Taylor, formerly of Durham, and had New Zealand’s star pairing stayed together for an hour or so, things could have become interesting.

Instead, neither made it to 30 as they were run out in contrasting fashions. Williamson was extremely unfortunate, with Wood getting the slightest of touches to Taylor’s straight drive as he tried to field his own delivery. The fingertip touch deflected the ball into the stumps, catching Williamson a yard or so out of his ground, although it needed the slowest of slow-motion replays to prove there had been a deviation in the flight of the ball.

Williamson could curse his luck, but Taylor had no such luxury as he was caught out of his ground trying to scamper back for a second run that was never on. Adil Rashid, running in from the boundary, could barely believe his luck as he removed New Zealand’s main remaining danger man.

From that stage on, the game was England’s to lose, and while Neesham and Tom Latham briefly threatened to rebuild, putting on 54 for the fifth wicket, any semblance of a Kiwi fightback was ended when Wood lured the former into a mistimed drive that resulted in him playing on.

Not to be outdone by his Durham team-mate, Stokes struck with his first ball, luring Colin de Grandhomme into a mistimed pull that flew to Root on the deep square leg boundary, but Wood finished top of the bowling figures after removing Santner and Matt Henry to finish with 3-34.