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Champions Trophy: Narrow win against New Zealand sees England through to semi-finals


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 on a dank day in Wales - 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 on Monday.

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 recent NatWest Series - edging on to his stumps.

Tim Bresnan soon had Ross Taylor lbw with one that snaked through to hit his back leg, Bruce Oxenford's decision marginally vindicated by DRS.

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.

Their own innings had begun with a stutter, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott both gone by the fourth over, and ended with a full-blown collapse as Cook's departure kick-started a procession.

In between, though, Cook and Root turned 25 for two into 100 without further loss.

Cook rode his luck, dropped three times by Nathan McCullum before the same player eventually caught him off his own bowling.

The England captain excelled himself nonetheless with some clean hitting down the ground and a touch of invention too, for two sixes and three fours in his 39-ball 50.

Bell had almost knocked short cover over but was instead well held by Brendon McCullum after driving McClenaghan on the up; then Trott picked out mid-wicket unerringly to fall to his favourite shot, off Mills.

Cook and Root each had their scrapes, the former put down at mid-wicket off Franklin - on 14 and then 37 - and then at backward-point on 45 off Williamson.

Root climbed into a mighty pull for six off Daniel Vettori and then had a reprieve in the same over on 28 when he was given out lbw sweeping but resorted to DRS, which demonstrated an inside edge on Hotspot.

Root eventually mistimed a pull at McClenaghan to be caught by the wicketkeeper, and Cook then drilled one back and was safely held this time by McCullum.

But it was Vettori's final over - the 20th, conceding just one run and including the wicket of Eoin Morgan lbw sweeping - which put the onus on Bopara and Jos Buttler to convert a competitive score into an obviously defendable one.

Instead they and others, including Broad and James Tredwell for ducks in the final over from Mills, fell in a heap trying up the ante.

Once Anderson put the Kiwi reply under instant pressure, however, it always seemed England had plenty of runs after all.

Despite the best efforts of Williamson and New Zealand's Anderson therefore, it was the Kiwis who were left hoping for a narrow Australia victory to sneak them through tomorrow.