Cricket World Cup: England beat New Zealand in Auckland thriller

By Stephan ShemiltChief cricket writer in Auckland
Women's World Cup, Auckland
New Zealand 203 (48.5 overs): Green 52*, Cross 3-35, Ecclestone 3-41
England 204-9 (47.2 overs): Sciver 61, Knight 42, Mackay 4-34
England won by one wicket
Scorecard. Table

England are on course for a place in the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup after somehow completing a nerve-shredding one-wicket win over hosts New Zealand in Auckland.

Chasing 204 to win at Eden Park, defending champions England were being taken to victory by a stand of 70 between Nat Sciver and Sophia Dunkley.

But Dunkley's dismissal for 33 was the beginning of a chaotic collapse of five wickets for 20 runs, leaving England 196-9.

Amid unbearable tension and with rain falling - play could have been stopped with England ahead on the DLS method - England needed last-wicket pair Charlie Dean and Anya Shrubsole to find eight runs.

Number 11 Shrubsole, who was England's hero in both the final and semi-final five years ago, drove Brooke Halliday for four to tie the scores, then hit the winning run from the next ball.

England draw level on four points with India and New Zealand and are likely to reach the semi-finals if they beat Pakistan and Bangladesh, the bottom two teams in the group.

New Zealand, who have played a game more than England, need an unlikely series of results to go their way in order to make the last four.

England survive chaotic collapse

England have put up a helter-skelter defence of the trophy they won in 2017, winning only one of their first four games. This was so close to being a shambolic exit.

With New Zealand hampered by on-field injuries to Lea Tahuhu and Sophie Devine, England needed 28 runs with six wickets in hand and more than nine overs remaining. What followed defied belief.

Dunkley played down the wrong line to be bowled by Frankie Mackay, while Sciver played an awful cut at Jess Kerr and was bowled after an otherwise faultless 61.

Panic set in: Sophie Ecclestone was bowled, Kate Cross was lbw, both to off-spinner MacKay, while Katherine Brunt was run out coming back for a second run.

It was left to Shrubsole, who bowled England to victory in the 2017 final against India, but who also hit the winning runs in the semi-final win over South Africa.

With the stakes just as high, she hit Halliday - who would not have been bowling had it not been for the injuries to Devine and Tahuhu - through extra cover for four, then scrambled a single to spark joyous and relieved England celebrations.

Fortune smiles on England

This was perhaps the most remarkable game in a tournament that has repeatedly produced classic finishes.

The high stakes and the magnitude of the event - the hosts taking on the defending champions at New Zealand's national stadium - made it even more memorable.

If England had lost this game, the defeat would have been all the more inexplicable given the fortune they had along the way.

They won a crucial toss, only for New Zealand openers Devine and Suzie Bates to attack some wayward new-ball bowling.

The injury to Devine, the tournament's second-highest runscorer, was a turning point. On 37, she turned for a second run and collapsed to her knees with a back problem.

As she left the field, New Zealand's momentum went with her and she was only able to score four more when she returned 24 overs later.

No bowler has more wickets at this World Cup than Tahuhu, and she was fired up when she bowled Tammy Beaumont. Soon after, she had to limp off with a hamstring injury and took no further part.

Luck was far from the sole reason for England's victory, but it was on their side.

Change bowlers lead England

For all of the problems suffered by New Zealand, and the way England almost unravelled, the result was ultimately shaped by the way the defending champions bowled and fielded.

After opening bowlers Brunt and Shrubsole struggled, it took the introduction of back-up seamers Cross and Sciver to apply the brakes, with Cross inducing a miscue from Bates before the injury to Devine.

New Zealand's batting has been heavily reliant on Bates, Devine, Amelia Kerr and Amy Satterthwaite, and England were always likely to restrict the White Ferns if they could get through the top four.

Off-spinner Dean, continuing her fine tournament, had Kerr top-edge a sweep and then trapped Satterthwaite in front. From there, England squeezed.

Though Maddy Green inched her way to 52 not out and Devine was able to return, New Zealand's last eight wickets fell for 69 runs.

Heather Knight's spectacular flying catch to dismiss Tahuhu and Sciver's tumbling stop and throw to run out Halliday is evidence the fielding mistakes that blighted England earlier in the tournament might now be behind them.

'I am in shock'

England captain Heather Knight: "There is a bit of relief, we will reflect on what we can do better and we can make it easier but the main thing was getting the win."

England all-rounder Nat Sciver: "It's crazy we got over the line when we probably should not have. I am in shock, there have been so many close games in this tournament."

Former England spinner Alex Hartley on Test Match Special: "It was scrappy but England fought to the end and got the win. It's about coming through in these tight moments."

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