England produced a disciplined all-round display to register a narrow 10-run victory over New Zealand in their crucial rain-curtailed Group A match and advance to the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy in Cardiff, on Sunday.
Riding on skipper Alastair Cook's 47-ball 64, England scored 169 all out against New Zealand after the match was reduced to a 24-over a side tie following incessant rain which delayed the start by over five hours.
Needing 170 for a win, the Kiwis lost their top five batsmen for 62 and despite a gutsy 54-ball 67 by Kane Williamson, they failed to take the game to the wire.
With four points from three matches in group A, England are currently on top of Group A.
After three games, New Zealand are second in the group with three points while Australia (1 point from two matches) and Sri Lanka (two points from two matches) are all in the fray for a spot in the last four.
All eyes will be now on Australia and Sri Lanka when they clash at The Oval on Monday.
Chasing 170 to win, New Zealand never recovered after losing both their openers for 14 runs.
A brilliant spell of seam bowling by James Anderson (3/32) gave England the advantage. Anderson moved the ball both ways and generated some hostile pace as the Kiwi batsmen failed to find their feet.
Luke Ronchi and Martin Guptill were never in comfort against the English bowlers. Ronchi edged a rising ball to third man and Guptill was bowled off an inside edge.
Ross Taylor reviewed his LBW decision unsuccessfully after a Tim Bresnan inswinger hit him on the right leg. Taylor (3 off 6 balls) appealed to the TV umpire in desperation but in vain.
Brendon McCullum's departure in the 12th over left New Zealand with too much to chase. The asking rate mounted to 10-plus and the Kiwi captain's exit meant the New Zealanders didn't have a man to step on the gas.
England captain Alastair Cook mixed his genuine and slow-medium pacers to telling effect. Ravi Bopara, with his cutters and his slow-off-the wicket pace, was always going to be a difficult customer.
Bopara (2/26) picked up the crucial wickets of Brendon (8) -- Joe Root took a brilliantly judged low catch at deep square leg -- and James Franklin as the Kiwis suffered a batting collapse.
A fighting 73-run stand off 47 balls between Williamson (67) and debutant Corey Anderson (30 off 24 balls) lifted the Kiwis, but the pressure of scoring more than 10 runs an over against the likes of Anderson, Stuart Broad (1/25) and Tim Bresnan (2/41) was always going to be tough.
Earlier, Cook scored a chancy half-century as England were all out for 169 in 23.3 overs. It was Cook's 18th ODI half-century and could not have been better timed as the hosts needed to win to stay in contention in the tournament.
Cook, who scored 64 off 47 balls with four fours and two sixes, was involved in a fruitful 75-run third wicket partnership with Root (38) after the hosts were reduced to 25 for 2 in the fourth over of a rain-hit match.
More than half the match was lost after rains lashed Cardiff and the Sophia Gardens was mostly under covers throughout the day. Good work by the groundstaff enabled a late afternoon start after the rains relented, but sky remained overcast.
Interestingly, the toss happened at its scheduled time at 10am local time and New Zealand opted to field obviously keeping the weather forecast in mind.
England lost Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott after both batsmen made promising starts.
Bell was caught by Brendon McCullum at short over off left-arm pacer Mithchell McClenaghan for 10.
But it was New Zealand's fielding that let them down badly. At least five catches were put down and Cook alone enjoyed three lives at 14, 37 and 45.
Nathan McCullum, who held an easy waist high catch to get rid of Trott, dropped Cook thrice but interestingly he also took four catches in the match.
Nathan McCullum finally made amends when he saw the back of the England captain, catching him off his own bowling.
Cook made a hesitant start but then opened up as England had to take care of the run-rate as well.
Cook and Root took England past the 100-run mark off 86 balls but McClenaghan took his second wicket to break the partnership.
The 22-year-old Root top edged a pull shot and was caught on the leg side after scoring 38 off 40 balls.
Earlier, after hotspot detected a feather inside edge, Root had a review going in his favour after the umpire had given him out LBW off Daniel Vettori when he was on 28.
Cook and Eoin Morgan put on a crucial 41 off 29 balls for the fourth wicket.
Cook picked up his 18th half-century off 39 balls in the 17th over. He stepped the gas after his fifty and blasted a six and a four off part-tikme spinner Kane Williamson.
Morgan also got into the act and sent McCullum over long on to another six in the 19th over.
The off-spinner then made the breakthrough when caught and bowled the skipper before Vettori trapped Morgan infront of wicket to put brakes on the England's innings.
Jos Butler (14 off 9 balls) then became Mills' second victim. Mills finished with four wickets for 30 in the end as the England lower order gifted their wickets away trying for quick runs.
Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images