England seal semi-final spot with win over NZ

Cardiff, June 17 (IANS) England got the better of New Zealand in a rain marred Group A contest here Sunday to cement their place in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy.

Skipper Alastair Cook (64) led from the front to take England to 169 in a 24-over a side game before the fast bowlers used the conditions well to restrict New Zealand to 159 for eight at the Sophia Gardens. James Anderson struck thrice while Tim Bresnan and Ravi Bopara took two wickets each.

With the win, England ended their league stage campaign with two victories from three matches bagging four points. New Zealand finished with three points, courtesy a win and no result against Australia.

The other semi-finalist from the group will only be known after Monday’s clash between Sri Lanka and Australia at the Oval. India and South Africa have qualified from Group B.

New Zealand were off to a bad start in their chase with Anderson and Bresnan ripping through their top-order.

Anderson had Luke Ronchi caught at third man before Martin Guptill played on to his stumps in the same over. Bresnan got Ross Taylor plumb in front, leaving the Black Caps reeling at 27 for three in seven overs.

Anderson troubled the batsmen in particular through his swing besides making the ball move sharply off the pitch.

The dangerous Brendon McCullum perished after he flat batted one towards deep square leg with Joe Root taking a stunning diving catch. New Zealand were now four down for 48 in the 12th over.

Kane Willamson brought his team into the game out of nowhere, thanks to a 67-run sizzler. The 54-ball innings saw eight cracking fours and a maximum.

Williamson got support from Corey Anderson (30) and the duo belted 73 runs off 49 balls. New Zealand needed 36 off the last three overs but the glimmer of hope ended with the fall of Williamson.

Earlier, England looked good to breach the 200-run mark until they lost their last six wickets for 28 runs.

Cook shared a 75-run stand for the third wicket with Root (38), taking the innings forward.

The southpaw was in good touch, hitting four boundaries and a couple of sixes in his quickfire knock.

The collapse began with captain’s dismissal, making it 141 for four.

Thereafter, speedsters Kyke Mills (4/30) and Mitchell McClenaghen (3/36) ran through the England batting.

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