Cricket: England-New Zealand cut to 24 overs per side

Rain reduced the key Champions Trophy Group A match between England and New Zealand in Cardiff on Sunday to a 24 overs per side contest.

Play, which had been scheduled to start at 10.30am local time (0930GMT), was now due to get underway at 3.45 pm, following an inspection by Australian umpires Rod Tucker and Bruce Oxenford, provided there was no further rain.

Whichever team wins this match will go through to the semi-finals and if hosts England lose they will exit the tournament.

But if New Zealand lose they will be involved in a three-way battle for a semi-final place with Australia and Sri Lanka, who meet in the last Group A match at The Oval on Monday.

If Sunday's match is a washout, New Zealand will go through to the last four and if Sri Lanka win on Monday they too will qualify for the knockout stages.

A washout in Cardiff means defending champions Australia will both need to beat Sri Lanka and to improve their net run-rate to edge past England.

In order for a result to be declared both teams in a match must bat for a minimum of 20 overs each.

If both remaining Group A matches do end as no result washouts, England will qualify behind New Zealand on run-rate.

Bad weather in Cardiff saw Friday's Group B match between South Africa and the West Indies end in a tie under the Duckworth/Lewis method for rain-affected fixtures.

The tie saw South Africa into the semi-finals at West Indies' expense on net run-rate.

Although Sunday's start was delayed, the toss did take place as scheduled and New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum asked England to bat first.

England were without Graeme Swann because of a calf injury, which followed a back problem he suffered earlier in the tournament, and his place was taken by fellow off-spinner James Tredwell.

However, top order batsman Jonathan Trott was passed fit following a leg injury that prevented him fielding for most of Sri Lanka's innings during England's seven-wicket defeat at The Oval on Thursday.

New Zealand seamer Tim Southee was ruled out with an ankle injury and in his place the Black Caps gave a one-day international debut to 22-year-old left-arm paceman Corey Anderson, who played three Twenty20 internationals in South Africa last year.

Anderson was a late call-up after replacing Grant Elliott in the New Zealand squad for the tournament after the all-rounder was ruled out after exacerbating a left calf injury during a training session in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Group A winners will play South Africa in the first semi-final at The Oval on Wednesday, with the runners-up facing India in Cardiff on Thursday.

The Champions Trophy final takes place at Edgbaston on June 23.

There are no reserve days in the tournament. If a semi-final is washed out, the team who topped its group will go through.

If the final is washed out, the trophy will be shared.