Edwards sees England home

Beth Morgan

Beth Morgan goes aerial as she launches an assault on the New Zealand attack

England had talismanic captain Charlotte Edwards to thank after they became the only unbeaten side left in the World Cup following a 31-run win over New Zealand.

The 29-year-old scored a battling 57 and took 4-37 as England passed their first real test in this competition with flying colours.

That England even managed to post 201 for five was in the main due to Edwards' patient half-century, Beth Morgan's determined 34 not out and some late pyrotechnics from Jenny Gunn.

Having won the toss and elected to bat first, English hearts were in mouths when Sarah Taylor chipped Sophie Devine's third ball straight to Lucy Doolan at mid-on but she spilled the straightforward chance.

The opener was not so fortunate when she attempted the same stroke, Doolan this time hanging on to a replica catch as England lost their first wicket with 20 runs on the board.

English boundaries were at a premium, mainly due to the low bounce and spongy outfield at the pretty Bankstown Oval ground, the first coming in the fifth over when Caroline Atkins caressed a delicious square drive off Devine. It was a shot as good as the bowler's surname.

Claire Taylor survived a big shout for lbw off Kate Pulford but began to show signs of form with a punched four over midwicket in the 11th over.

At the other end, Atkins punished a full-toss from the erratic Suzie Bates as she and Taylor gradually looked more comfortable on the slow wicket.

There was a nasty moment in the 16th over when New Zealand keeper Rachel Priest was struck in the face standing up to Sarah Tsukigawa. After a short delay while she received treatment, Bates trudged off the field with blood oozing from her mouth and was temporarily replaced by Doolan.

Taylor received a let-off when the diving Amy Satterthwaite failed to hold a tough chance at mid-on, but the world's top batsman could not take advantage of that life, edging Nicola Browne behind where Doolan snaffled an easy catch.

England suffered a further setback three overs later when Atkins was pinned on the back foot by Tsukigawa for a well-crafted 36.

Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards celebrates taking the final wicket as England win by 31 runs

At 68 for three, England desperately needed their captain to pull off another rescue act. Edwards, whose shoulders seem to broaden the greater the challenge, answered the call in typically responsible fashion, shelving any risky shots in favour of careful accumulation.

She lifted the gloom by dancing down the wicket to Tsukigawa and drilling her through the covers, but England's plight worsened as they slipped to 96 for four.

Lydia Greenway, who never got going, chipped straight to Haidee Tiffin at wide mid-on and set off for a single. Edwards, believing it ambitious, sent her back only to watch her team-mate fail to beat Tiffin's direct hit.

New batsman Morgan was given a reprieve when Sara McGlashan fumbled, a moment in the game New Zealand would later regret.

Edwards continued in her unspectacular manner, careful maneouvring the ball and occasionally removing the shackles.

The skipper elected to take the batting powerplay in the next over, a move which paid rich dividends as England launched a late assault.

Having brought up her fifty from 76 balls, Edwards sent a lofted on-drive off the returning Devine to the boundary before being bowled next ball attempting a similar shot.

Her dismissal was the catalyst for a late surge by Morgan, who added 63 with the skipper, and the powerful Gunn.

With Morgan's excellent running between the wickets keeping the scoreboard ticking over, Gunn climbed into Devine and sent her high over long-off for the first six of the match.

Morgan concluded the innings with her second boundary as England added 76 in the final 10 overs, the unbeaten pair contributing 43 runs.

After lunch, Katherine Brunt and Isa Guha maintained a tight line with the new ball and a patient New Zealand had to wait until the eighth over for their first boundary, Haidee Tiffin clipping a four over square leg. Like London buses a second arrived a few balls later when Kate Pulford launched Brunt past mid-off.

But Brunt would get her revenge moments later, Pulford flashing at a wide delivery and edging to Sarah Taylor who took a smart catch.

Bates' little cameo did not last long, Guha the grateful recipient of an uppish drive off Gunn.

Jenny Gunn

Jenny Gunn returns to action in typically pugnacious style, bowling aggressively

Edwards threw the ball to Laura Marsh, retained in the side after collecting her first five wicket haul in Thursday's demolition of Pakistan. The hard-hitting New Zealand are a different proposition but Marsh did not wilt in the searing heat.

Brave enough to pitch the ball up and tease the batsmen with flight, she was rewarded with the wickets of Satterthwaite and Sara McGlashan, the former well-held by the tumbling Edwards at cover and the latter cleaned up.

The off-spinner has now taken 10 wickets in the tournament in just three matches.

Aimee Mason joined her stuttering captain who was crawling along at a snail's pace until she decided to take on Holly Colvin, a four over mid-on the result of a rare gamble.

New Zealand's 100 came up in the 37th over but they suffered a dagger through the heart moments later when Mason smashed a Colvin full-toss straight down Atkins' throat at deep midwicket, the opener taking a wonderful, sprawling catch on the boundary.

Edwards got in on the act as New Zealand lost their sixth wicket when Devine chipped a drive straight to Guha at mid-off.

The run-rate escalated to 10 an over forcing Tiffin to finally throw caution to the wind and she brought up her fifty, off 109 balls, by carting Morgan through the off-side.

New Zealand needed their captain to stay until the bitter end but her vigil was terminated in the 43rd over when she drilled Edwards to the pumped up Guha, who celebrated her third catch by launching the ball into the turf.

Nicola Browne and Tsukigawa enjoyed a few late blows - one huge hit from Browne cleared Greenway at midwicket with yards to spare. But Edwards ended their fun when she bowled Browne with a full delivery to leave New Zealand on the brink at 147 for eight.

Doolan was the next to go, caught by Atkins off the returning Brunt, and with a violent storm circling the ground, it was left to Edwards, somewhat appropriately, to take the final wicket.

Despite her own outstanding performance, Edwards insisted England were strong in all departments.

"It was a brilliant team performance today," she said. "We're now really looking forward to our game against the West Indies at Drummoyne next week - where a win will secure us a place in the World Cup final on March 22."

Coach Mark Lane agreed: "It was a good, solid team performance - with a major contribution from the captain, who showed her experience with both the bat and ball.

"Her performance was backed up by some brilliant fielding and catching by the rest of the team.

"Everyone contributed to the game today - which was really pleasing to see. It was hard work for us against an aggressive, dangerous New Zealand side.

"I'm really happy with today's performance and look forward to the game against the West Indies on Tuesday with excitement."