Hamilton: England captain Eoin Morgan says his side "had absolutely no right" to be in Wednesday's Twenty20 tri-series final against Australia, despite defeating New Zealand by two runs on Sunday.
Requiring a win by 20 runs or more to pip the Black Caps for a final berth on net run rate, England were sent out to bat and notched a solid 7-194 total.
Morgan starred with an unbeaten 80 from just 46 balls.
In response, New Zealand cruised to their bare-minimum target of 175 but couldn't quite ride out the victory, finishing on 4-192.
They'll now go into Wednesday's Eden Park tri-series final against the Australians, while the English will lick their wounds ahead of their five-ODI series.
That starts in Hamilton next weekend.
Morgan – whose side had lost all three of their games before Sunday – said England could have no complaints about skipping the decider.
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"We had absolutely no right to be in the final, we've played terribly so far in this tri-series, (but) played well today," he said.
"We did enough to win but not to go through. That's been the story of the trip."
Morgan said that, with hindsight, his team needed a score of at least 220 to put pressure on New Zealand, who would have therefore required 200.
With the likes of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro in vintage form, hitting 62 and 57 respectively, limiting the Kiwis to 174 proved too tough.
"Defending the first six (overs) was quite tough," Morgan said.
"A good test for our guys, running into those two in really good form – I'm afraid to say they won that battle, but hopefully we can learn a little from it."
After England's five ODIs against the Caps, they'll play their first Test matches – in Auckland and Christchurch – since losing the Ashes earlier this summer.
Morgan said he saw no signs of fatigue from his troops.