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October 1, 2009

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Kiwis ease into semifinals

NEW Zealand reached the semifinals of the Champions Trophy on Tuesday after cruising to a four-wicket win over lackluster England.

England, which was bowled out for 146 at the Wanderers, had already qualified for the last four. New Zealand's victory put it through as Group B winners.

Accurate medium-pace bowling by South African-born Grant Elliott, playing on his former home ground in Johannesburg, saw him claim career-best figures of four for 31 after Shane Bond (three for 21) and Kyle Mills had made telling breakthroughs with the new ball.

Paul Collingwood top-scored for England with 40 after he received a reprieve on 14 when New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori withdrew an appeal for a run out.

Collingwood wandered out of his crease after he evaded a short-pitched delivery from Mills, under the impression that over had been called, and wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum threw down the stumps.

The batsman was given out by TV umpire Aleem Dar but, after conferring with on-field umpires Daryl Harper and Asad Rauf and his New Zealand teammates, Vettori called Collingwood back.

Ravi Bopara survived for 80 minutes in scoring 30, while England's last pair Ryan Sidebottom (20) and James Anderson (4 not out) combined for a 10th-wicket stand of 29.

New Zealand openers Brendon McCullum (48) and Martin Guptill (53) launched a telling onslaught at the start of the run-chase, lashing 84 runs in 12.3 overs before Stuart Broad took advantage of the variable bounce on a seamer-friendly pitch to pick up four quick wickets.

"Brendon realized that if he could rip the guts out of England's resistance at the start of chasing that small total, we could take it away from them," Vettori said.

Skipper Vettori (10 not out) kept his cool though and prevented any cause for real alarm as he steered his team home in the 28th over.

"Stuart bowled exceptionally well," England captain Andrew Strauss said. "But we needed a bit of luck early on and we didn't get it on a wicket that was not a great one for one-day cricket, to be honest."

"New Zealand put the ball in the right areas and didn't give us any freebies, and then we couldn't do anything when their openers came at us in the beginning of their innings," Strauss said.


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