England beat New Zealand to Champions Trophy semi-final
England overcame New Zealand when it mattered most, and narrowly beat the Cardiff weather too, to book their place in the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy.
The hosts' final Group A match was reduced to 24 overs per side, where in defence of 169 all out after captain Alastair Cook (64) had top-scored, two new-ball wickets in three deliveries from James Anderson (three for 32) set the tone for a precious 10-run victory.
Once New Zealand faltered to 62 for five, remarkably in the 15th meeting between these two sides across all formats this year, it seemed a return of the rain was the biggest danger to England's progression.
They needed to bowl at least 20 overs for the outcome to stand, in the knowledge that a no-result would leave them awaiting a favourable result of the final group match between Australia and Sri Lanka at The Oval today.
The weather held off but England had to hold their nerve too as Kane Williamson (67) and one-day international debutant Corey Anderson kept the Kiwis just about in the contest in a sixth-wicket stand of 73.
Anderson got England off to a wonderful start with the ball, after their own innings had finished with a whimper as their last seven wickets fell for only 28 runs to Kyle Mills (four for 30) and Mitchell McClenaghan (three for 36).
Under heavy cloud cover and floodlights, Anderson had Luke Ronchi mistiming a slog to third man and then Martin Guptill - the scourge of England during the pre-tournament ODI series - edging on to his stumps.
Tim Bresnan soon had Ross Taylor lbw with one that snaked through to hit his back leg. Joe Root was the star turn in England's next wicket, the important one of Brendon McCullum - brilliantly held low down by the young Yorkshireman off Ravi Bopara's bowling, diving in from the deep square-leg boundary.
When Bopara struck again, James Franklin spearing a catch to point, five of New Zealand's top six had gone for single-figure scores.
Williamson was in no mood to give up, however, and found an ally at last in Anderson. It seemed a forlorn task until they took 19 from the 21st over, bowled by Bresnan, and it was not until Stuart Broad had Williamson caught at mid-off by Anderson - the delivery within millimetres of being called a no-ball, on video replay inspection - that England were back in a comparative comfort zone.
"It was a stressful day, especially the last few overs," a relieved Cook said. "The partnership between Williamson and Corey Anderson was excellent and we were glad to get over the line.
"The bowlers were wonderful and Anderson was fantastic. We were very good in the field today, too. I am just glad that we have qualified for the semi-final."
New Zealand will now be hoping Australia can beat Sri Lanka today.
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Published: June 16, 2013 04:00 AM