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New Zealand are teetering on the brink of a Champions Trophy exit after a controversial Kane Williamson dismissal and a tense 10-run defeat to England in their final group A match in Cardiff.
Chasing 170 to win a rain-shortened 24-over contest, the Black Caps could only post 159-8, thanks largely to a blazing 67 off 54 balls from Williamson who propped up another batting collapse.
New Zealand aren't gone completely but require a crisis-ridden Australia to beat Sri Lanka at The Oval early tomorrow (NZT) to sneak into the final four on net run rate, on current form an unlikely prospect.
Williamson and surprise debutant Corey Anderson got New Zealand close with a sixth-wicket stand of 73 off 45 balls before Williamson's dismissal provided the pivotal moment in the 22nd over.
He hit out at Stuart Broad and was caught, but hung around as third umpire Steve Davis checked the no ball.
On replays it was difficult to see any part of Broad's foot behind the front line but Davis offered the benefit of the doubt to England.
Williamson hauled New Zealand up from the brink and gave them hope when they took 19 off the 21st over bowled by Tim Bresnan. At that stage New Zealand needed 36 off the last three overs but it proved too much.
Williamson cracked eight fours and a six whilst Anderson, who recovered from painful cramp in his calf, hit 30 off 24 before he departed six balls later with the equation skyrocketing.
In truth, New Zealand didn't deserve to progress on today's performance after some awful fielding blunders and more top-order woes under pressure from England's bowlers.
With heavy cloud cover and moisture in the air, the ball zipped around and New Zealand's batsmen were again found out.
James Anderson is the best in the business in helpful conditions and he crippled the innings by removing Luke Ronchi and Martin Guptill in the space of three deliveries.
The experiment to open with Ronchi was confirmed as a failure as he slogged out following a wretched 12-ball stay. Guptill, the key man, seemed affected by Ronchi's struggles when he prodded and chopped on.
Ross Taylor was trapped lbw by Tim Bresnan to one that nipped back and he immediately challenged umpire Rod Tucker's decision. His reaction suggested he'd got an inside edge but replays showed it to be a poor review.
The slide was on at 27-3 and captain Brendon McCullum was the man, but the form slump that dogged him throughout the tour had too firm a grip.
After a few sighters he lashed out at Ravi Bopara's medium pace and was caught to deep square leg, New Zealand's hopes disappearing with McCullum's mournful trudge off the field.
Earlier, after a rain delay of more than five hours, New Zealand recovered from some fielding horrors to dismiss England with three balls to spare.
Pacemen Kyle Mills (4-30) and Mitchell McClenaghan (3-36) hauled it back after a woeful start when four catches went down and home skipper Alastair Cook cashed in.
England were poised on 141-3 in the 19th over before getting the speed wobbles and losing a remarkable 7-28 in 29 balls.
A 200-plus total looked on when Nathan McCullum dropped Cook three times, on 14, 37 and 45. The first two were sharp chances off James Franklin, who also put down a catch himself, but the last off Williamson was easy by club standards.
A day after signing with Glamorgan for the Twenty20 competition, McCullum wished his new home ground would swallow him up.
To his credit, McCullum fought back and took the next four catches on offer, including a return chance from Cook after the skipper scored 64 off 47 balls including two sixes.
Cook's wicket signalled the collapse as Daniel Vettori (1-27 off five) trapped dangerman Eoin Morgan in front next over to begin the strangle.
Franklin summed up another inconsistent New Zealand fielding effort, misfielding in the deep before recovering to run out Tim Bresnan with a direct hit.
Mills moved clear of Muttiah Muralitharan (24) as the top Champions Trophy wicket-taker.
Earlier New Zealand sprang a surprise by promoting all-rounder Anderson for the injured Tim Southee (ankle).
Anderson had been training with the team and was called into the official squad after Grant Elliott (calf) was ruled out of the tournament on match eve. Anderson was preferred to Ian Butler and Doug Bracewell, presumably for his hitting ability with the prospect of a shortened game.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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