England completed their 204 run chase against New Zealand in Auckland to keep their hopes alive at the Women's Cricket World Cup ©Getty Images

England have kept their hopes of qualifying for the Women’s Cricket World Cup semi-finals alive after beating the hosts New Zealand in dramatic fashion at Eden Park in Auckland.

The defending champions were forced to do it the hard way after getting off to a slow start with the ball and suffering a scare with the bat at the end.

A mixture of poor bowling and good batting handed New Zealand’s Suzie Bates and skipper Sophie Devine a promising start from the crease.

However, Bates was dismissed for 22 and Devine was forced to retire due to a back injury in the 15th over.

When Amelia Kerr and Amy Satterthwaite arrived in the middle, they were tasked with getting through England’s spinning duo Charlie Dean and Sophie Ecclestone.

It was Dean who won the battle once she got Kerr’s wicket for 24 runs and trapped Satterthwaite leg before wicket (lbw) after she had also scored 24.

New Zealand collapsed from 134 runs for three off 31 overs to 203 all out after 48.5 overs.

Devine returned to the crease and managed to record 41 runs off 48 balls.

In addition to Dean, Seamer Kate Cross and spinner Ecclestone combined to damage New Zealand’s batting line-up.

Cross recorded three wickets for 35 runs, while Ecclestone had figures of three wickets for 41.

It was a mixed start for England with the bat as they kept pace with the run chase but Danni Wyatt, Tamsin Beaumont, skipper Heather Knight, and Amy Jones were all dismissed after 27 overs.

Nat Sciver and Sophia Dunkley, who scored 61 and 22 runs respectively, steadied the ship and kept wickets in hand for the death.

This proved crucial once the match headed into the final 10 overs.

Dunkley departed with England’s score sat at 176.

Sciver was also dismissed not long after having added just 11 runs in her partnership with Katherine Brunt.

Ecclestone was bowled by Frances Mackay and the Kiwi confined Cross to lbw three balls later.

During this flurry of late wickets, Mackay was the deadliest New Zealand bowler with figures of four wickets for 34 runs.

When Brunt was run out by Maddy Green, England needed just eight more runs to win off 3.4 overs but had only one wicket to spare.

However, numbers 10 and 11 Dean and Anya Shrubsole successfully got their team over line, largely thanks to Shrubsole scoring seven runs.

England are now fifth in the standings with four points, putting them level with India in fourth and New Zealand in sixth.

India have the best net run rate of the trio, which puts them above their rivals, with plus 0.456.

England are on plus 0.327 while New Zealand are suffering from a negative net run rate of minus 0.229.

England are due to meet Pakistan next on Thursday (March 24) at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. 

New Zealand are then scheduled to play Pakistan at the same venue on Saturday (March 26).