England v New Zealand, CB Series, 12th match, Brisbane February 6, 2007

Resurgent England reach finals

England 7 for 270 (Collingwood 106, Strauss 55, Bond 4-46) beat New Zealand 8 for 256 (Fleming 106, Plunkett 3-60) by 14 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary



Paul Collingwood runs through to complete his century © Getty Images
England's three-month tour of Australia will be extended by another seven days after Paul Collingwood's 106 set up an unpredictable triumph. Two weeks ago England's players were praying to go home, but now they have a best-of-three finals series against Australia to prepare for and more opportunities for consistency before the World Cup.

Having done well to score 7 for 270, England quickly gave up their strong position with a wayward opening and Stephen Fleming clipped a century that appeared to be sending England to the international airport. However, despite raising his first hundred in three years, Fleming was unable to carry his team and was light on support as they finished with 8 for 256.

In a tense and often scratchy second innings, New Zealand began well, were pegged back after the first 15 overs, worked themselves into comfort through Fleming and Ross Taylor and suffered terminal blows when Scott Styris, Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum left in quick succession. Wanting 19 from the last over to tie and go through, the eventual margin was 14 runs and it was a disappointing end for a team that played well until the final week of qualifying.

After Collingwood and Andrew Strauss worked their way out of bad patches, Fleming also shook off a lean run in an innings that needed his leadership. Fleming, who suffered a painful blow on the hand from Andrew Flintoff, played well until he approached his century when he stalled and was unable to recharge. His 106 from 149 balls was his seventh ODI century but the cause was lost when he edged Flintoff and his next engagement is the Chappell-Hadlee Series at home.

New Zealand's openers wiped 81 off the chase before Lou Vincent was caught trying to slog Monty Panesar to midwicket. The swift start was boosted by the tardiness of England's new-ball men, who gave up 56 runs between them in eight overs, and Liam Plunkett was the early offender with an 11-delivery over that included nine runs in wides.

Plunkett sprayed the ball and Sajid Mahmood also had trouble controlling Fleming and Vincent before Panesar arrived to end the damage. Panesar picked up Vincent for 31 off 32 balls in the 14th over and New Zealand's progress continued to slow when Peter Fulton arrived, taking 11 deliveries to get off zero. Departing to a leading edge, Fulton occupied 30 balls for 12 and the dip in the scoring rate had lasting effects.

Collingwood's century was the high point for England as they produced a competitive total despite a fine effort by Shane Bond, who captured 4 for 46. At times during the series Collingwood, who had 83 runs in his previous six attempts, had looked lost, but he picked an ideal day to fire.



Stephen Fleming's century wasn't enough for New Zealand © Getty Images
England's struggles were again on show when Bond dropped them to 2 for 28, but Collingwood re-floated the side in partnership with Strauss and then completed the job by almost staying until the end. Both batsmen have struggled during the limited-overs stage of the tour, but their 103-run stand in 118 balls provided extra confidence and put England on the right track.

Strauss fell pulling for 55 and Collingwood continued to grab runs through nudges, glides and firm boundaries. There were moments of doubt, including a dropped caught-and-bowled chance by Jacob Oram on 18, but he grew more assured as the innings progressed and deserved his reward. He left in strange circumstances when Jamie Dalrymple dropped his bat at the non-striker's end as Bond was in his delivery stride. Collingwood noticed and appeared to be put off as he moved across his stumps and was bowled.

In Bond's first spell of five overs he captured Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell for nine runs and returned in his second to remove Andrew Flintoff (17) before he became too dangerous. Michael Vaughan's return from three weeks out with a hamstring injury ended in almost immediate disappointment after he won the toss. Bond began the second over of the innings with a wide, but his first legal effort was sensational and he bowled Vaughan with an inswinging yorker.

Collingwood engineered the fightback and added to his bright day with two victims while Plunkett managed three despite his accuracy problems. Flintoff was also important to the success and with Vaughan back in charge they will feel better prepared to test Australia at the MCG on Friday.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo