England claw way into cricket final
One-day series, Brisbane: England 270-7 (50 overs) bt New Zealand by 14 runs
England advanced to the finals of the Commonwealth Bank Series after defeating New Zealand by 14 runs at the Gabba in Brisbane.
Michael Vaughan's men will now face Australia in the best-of-three showpiece to the triangular tournament.
The victory was founded on Paul Collingwood's first limited-overs international hundred since mid-2005 and a fine comeback in the field after initial indiscipline boosted New Zealand's chase of 271.
A dozen runs were given away wides in as many overs, with the first of the innings sent down by Liam Plunkett stretching to 11 deliveries.
England captain Vaughan's tactical nous - his delaying of the power-play periods resulted in New Zealand managing only 37 runs - proved key.
Given a helping hand by English profligacy with the ball, Black Caps openers Stephen Fleming and Lou Vincent scored in excess of six-an-over in the initial stages.
They were parted when Vincent went aerial against spinner Monty Panesar but only succeeded in spiralling the ball to mid-on.
That left New Zealand 81 for one in the 14th over, yet England might have been in a stronger position but for wicketkeeper Paul Nixon, standing up to the stumps, putting down left-hander Fleming, who had scored only 36 of his eventual 106, off medium-pacer Collingwood in the previous over.
Number three Peter Fulton got bogged down by England's best two bowlers Andrew Flintoff and Panesar operating in tandem and perished in trying to break the shackles when a top-edged pull off Plunkett spooned to cover.
Arguably it was the third wicket which was the most significant, however, as indecision resulted in youngster Ross Taylor being sacrificed by Fleming, who had nudged the ball into the off-side and dallied while Vaughan swooped to relay to Flintoff.
Although New Zealand entered the final 20 overs requiring just 121 runs, such was the squeeze that the ratio had climbed to eight-an-over off the final 10 and 10-and-a-half-an-over were needed from the final five.
Regular wickets were chiefly responsible as Durham duo Plunkett and Collingwood profited.
When centurion Fleming perished to Flintoff in the 47th over the contest was already decided. Earlier Collingwood struck 106, his third one-day hundred for England, to celebrate his return to the side after sickness prevented his participation in the win over Australia last Friday.
He repaired the damage to the innings alongside Andrew Strauss as the pair shared a 103-run stand, having come together at 52 for three in the 14th over.
Vaughan's batting return after a torn hamstring lasted just one ball, however.
Vaughan was bowled by Shane Bond's first legitimate delivery of the must-win contest, a perfectly-pitched inswinging yorker.
Strauss rode his luck to hit 55, his first half-century of the series, off 63 deliveries.
Umpire Daryl Harper gave Strauss a reprieve on 31 when he turned down an impressive case for leg-before from James Franklin.
Collingwood was then put down, on 18, in the next over when he offered a return chance to Jacob Oram.
Strauss belied his recent lack of fluency with some impressive strokes - a pulled six off Mark Gillespie in an over which cost 14 the pick.
He fell attempting to heave Scott Styris' medium pace to leg while Flintoff failed to take advantage of being dropped in the deep by Taylor when he picked out long-on from a Bond slower ball.
With Collingwood set and wickets in hand, England managed to gather 78 runs from the final 10 overs nevertheless.
Bond went for 16 runs in the final over to taint otherwise excellent figures.
He finished with four for 46, including centurion Collingwood, bowled around his legs by a yorker and Ian Bell, held at second slip from a loose drive.
Earlier it was Fleming's Black Caps who began the most positively despite losing the toss.
When England's most in-form batsman Ed Joyce feathered behind, after advancing down the track to left-armer Franklin, there appeared trouble ahead only for Collingwood and Strauss' defiance and some poor fielding to let them off the hook.
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