England reach triangular finals

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Andrew Strauss

Andrew Strauss makes a timely half-century © Getty Images

England will contest the Commonwealth Bank Series finals with Australia after a brilliant hundred and two wickets from Paul Collingwood ensured a 14-run victory over New Zealand.

Captain Stephen Fleming scored his first one-day international century against England but ended on the losing side as the Black Caps faltered chasing a total of 270 for seven.

Fleming fell for 106, as New Zealand could only muster 256 for eight in their allotted overs, with late wickets from Liam Plunkett, Andrew Flintoff and Collingwood sealing their fate.

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Earlier Collingwood's century and a morale-boosting fifty for Andrew Strauss had helped England to set what turned out to be a match-winning total.

Collingwood's hundred came off 118 balls and will have given him some satisfaction after he had not recorded a significant score on the tour of Australia since his double-hundred in the Adelaide Test.

The Kiwi openers then got off to a flying start in response, with both Plunkett's and Sajid Mahmood's first overs costing 11 runs.

It wasn't until the first ball of the 14th over that England managed to get the breakthrough they needed - Lou Vincent hitting Monty Panesar straight up into the air for Flintoff to take the catch.

Peter Fulton looked to be regaining some form when he swatted Flintoff over wide long on, but the bowler got his revenge by having him caught by Ian Bell for 12.

Fleming reached his fifty after what had previously been a disappointing series with the bat on a personal level.

He took control of the innings with himself and Ross Taylor continuing to push hard for runs, but a mix-up saw Taylor run out for 25 as both batsmen found themselves together at the striker's end.

Scott Styris went for 16 as he picked out Panesar off the bowling of Collingwood, to bring danger man Jacob Oram to the crease.

Stephen Fleming

Stephen Fleming plays all around the wicket in his innings © Getty Images

But his innings was not to last long as he gave Plunkett his second wicket of the innings, caught behind by Paul Nixon and Brendon McCullum became Plunkett's third victim for two.

Collingwood was back in the action in the closing stages, getting Daniel Vettori caught by Michael Vaughan as New Zealand's final hopes receded.

The pressure had mounted on Fleming as he neared his hundred and the required rate increased to over seven runs an over, but he reached the milestone in the 41st over with a quickly-run two through the legside.

But the Black Caps last vestige of hope looked to have gone when Fleming nicked Flintoff behind to end his combative innings.

His opposite number Vaughan's comeback had not lasted long when Shane Bond struck with his first ball, bowling the skipper for a duck with an inswinging yorker which crashed into the stumps.

Bond was in on the action again when Bell edged him to second slip attempting to drive, to give him his second wicket.

Ed Joyce was the next to go as he tried to give himself room on the off side and edged through to McCullum.

Collingwood came in at five and he and Strauss set about giving the innings some order.

Strauss smacked Mark Gillespie for 4-6-4 as he took his run-tally to 28 to equal his highest score of the series.

He went on to reach his half-century - made off just 51 balls - as he attempted to answer his critics with runs, but was bowled by Styris for 55.

Styris sent down a full and straight delivery which Strauss missed as he tried to heave it across the line.

Paul Collingwood

Paul Collingwood records his second highest score in one-day cricket © Getty Images

Collingwood brought up his fifty with a nudge into the leg side for two as he and Flintoff - coming in with 17 overs of the innings left to bat - immediately upped the tempo.

Flintoff was lucky when Taylor dropped a chance with the batsman on nine. But he went the following over when he tried the shot again and picked out James Franklin at long on.

Jamie Dalrymple and Collingwood kept the scoring at a decent rate, with at least a single coming from every ball they faced.

But Collingwood was bowled by Bond, coming back into the attack in the 48th over, for a magnificent 106 - his second highest score in one-day internationals.

He may have been distracted by Dalrymple dropping his bat at the other end as Bond came into bowl, but by then he had done enough to ensure a competitive total for New Zealand to chase.

Nixon followed him back to the pavilion bowled round his legs by Gillespie but Dalrymple ended the innings on 29 with Plunkett unbeaten on 15 from seven deliveries as England set New Zealand a victory target of 271.

Bond was easily the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, taking 4-46 in his ten overs.

The first of the three-match finals is on Friday.

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