LONDON • England and New Zealand head into their final Cricket World Cup group match today, each knowing that a win would see them book their semi-final berth.
Even a defeat would not spell the end of either team's chances of emerging as one of the top four sides from the round-robin phase.
Were England to lose in Chester-le-Street, Pakistan could leapfrog them with a huge win over Bangladesh in their final pool match.
However, with the 1992 world champions well behind on net run rate, it would take a big New Zealand loss, allied to a commanding Pakistan victory or two Bangladesh wins by massive margins, to deny the 2015 losing finalists a place in the last four.
Right now, though, England and New Zealand's World Cup destiny remain in their own hands.
The hosts, buoyed by a 31-run win that handed India their first defeat, are eager to again show why they were considered the tournament favourites as the No. 1 one-day international team.
All-rounder Chris Woakes, whose side are bidding for their first title, said: "Winning a game like this, under the pressure we were under, can only stand us in good stead, potentially for the New Zealand game and hopefully after that.
LOOKING ON BRIGHT SIDE
You don't actually play much knockout cricket, so to put ourselves in the heat of the battle... could potentially help us.
CHRIS WOAKES, England cricketer, relishing their clash with New Zealand today.
"You don't actually play much knockout cricket, so to put ourselves in the heat of the battle - obviously, we'd rather have qualified by now - could potentially help us."
By contrast, New Zealand are coming off successive losses to Pakistan and Australia, taking the gloss off a promising campaign.
An attack led by left-arm quick Trent Boult and featuring the express pace of Lockie Ferguson, though, remains a testing proposition for any side. Another paceman, in Matt Henry, may be recalled at the expense of spinner Ish Sodhi, given that the Riverside is not renowned for turning pitches.
But, while several England batsmen have made hundreds at the World Cup, New Zealand appear dangerously over-reliant on captain Kane Williamson and fellow senior batsman Ross Taylor for runs.
Colin Munro was dropped against Australia, while fellow out-of-form opener Martin Guptill has managed just 85 runs from six innings since his 73 not out against Sri Lanka. Wicket-keeper-batsman Tom Latham is also averaging just 8.2.
But batting coach Craig McMillan is not worried.
"Obviously, (Guptill and Latham) are short on runs, but we're excited by the fact that we haven't quite clicked as a batting group yet," he said. "We're still in charge of our destiny, that's always a nice thing to have."
On Monday, Sri Lanka held off a West Indies charge at Chester-le-Street by 23 runs to leave the watching Barbados-born pop idol Rihanna disappointed. The Asian side posted an imposing 338 for six, thanks largely to 21-year-old Avishka Fernando's first ODI ton.
ENGLAND V NEW ZEALAND
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