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New Zealand have tumbled out of the Champions Trophy cricket tournament after Australia went awfully close, but couldn't do them a huge favour in London.
After their 10-run defeat to England yesterday, New Zealand needed Australia to upset Sri Lanka at The Oval to progress, but it was always a long shot on recent form.
Sri Lanka snuck home by 20 runs after Australia's last pair of Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty gave them a huge fright and raised New Zealand's hopes with a last wicket stand of 41.
A brilliant caught and bowled by Tillakaratne Dilshan finished it and sparked wild celebrations.
Australia needed to chase down their target of 254 in 29.1 overs to sneak into the semi-finals on net run rate and they hit out desperately, before succumbing for 233 in the 43rd over.
Sri Lanka will meet India in Cardiff on Thursday night (NZT), with fellow group A qualifiers England taking on South Africa at The Oval in the first semi a day earlier.
It means New Zealand miss the semi-finals for the first time in their past five world 50-over tournaments, having reached the last four at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, and the 2006 and 2009 Champions Trophy tournaments, the latter when they lost to Australia in the final.
New Zealand couldn't quibble with the outcome either, with England and Sri Lanka winning two games apiece and confirming themselves as the two form sides of group A.
New Zealand had a fortunate one-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in game one then had a washout against Australia with the match evenly poised.
Ironically a washout against England in Cardiff yesterday would have been enough for New Zealand to progress and would have bounced the hosts out.
Batting was again New Zealand's Achilles heel, after generally strong bowling performances, led by Mitchell McClenaghan who took 11 wickets from three Champions Trophy matches with good backup from Kyle Mills, Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum.
New Zealand nearly bottled an elementary run chase for 139 against Sri Lanka on a tricky, dry pitch, then yesterday chasing a gettable 170 off 24 overs to progress, slumped to 48-4 with key batsmen Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor and captain Brendon McCullum dismissed cheaply as England's pacemen got the ball to swing and seam.
Kane Williamson's outstanding knock of 67 off 54 balls got them close, but the top order wobbles cost them dearly.
It's not the end of the tour for New Zealand. They wait around until Saturday to play a warmup Twenty20 match against Kent at Canterbury, before two T20 internationals against England at The Oval on June 25 and June 27.
New Zealand's next international assignment isn't until a scheduled tour of Bangladesh, including two tests, in October.
- © Fairfax NZ News