sport

England hopes in the balance

England women face New Zealand on Wednesday knowing even victory may not be enough to earn them a World Cup final place.

Charlotte Edwards' defending champions came to the tournament holding high hopes of retaining their title but things got off on the wrong foot with a surprise defeat to Sri Lanka in their opening fixture.

Victory over West Indies followed but a second defeat, to confirmed finalists Australia, in the Super Sixes left them little margin for error.

England blew away South Africa on Sunday in comprehensive fashion to keep their hopes alive - and their net run-rate competitive - but anything less than success against the White Ferns will leave them consigned to the third-place play-off.

Even victory would not guarantee England a place in the showpiece.

That would leave England with four wins and an NRR better than their current 1.079, but they would still be casting nervous glances towards the match between Australia and West Indies.

A win for their Ashes rivals would see England level with the Windies on six points and result in a straight run-rate calculation, meaning the margins as well as the result would be crucial in each match.

Defeat for Australia, meanwhile, would see West Indies into the final.

The issue is a complicated one for Australia, who may prefer to face the lower-ranked West Indies, but will be mindful of giving up their 100 percent record.

While they concentrate on getting their own job done, England will look to the likes of Edwards and Arran Brindle - their top-scorers in the tournament with 132 and 111 runs respectively - to put runs on the board.

Sarah Taylor is chronically short of runs, with just 35 in four innings, and will be eager to contribute too.

The bowling attack, meanwhile, is led by Katherine Brunt (11 wickets at 11.36) and the on-form Anya Shrubsole (13 wickets at 7.23).