England women's captain Charlotte Edwards blamed inconsistency for her side's downfall as they saw their World Cup defence come to a disappointing end despite a 15-run win over New Zealand in Mumbai.
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Half-centuries from Edwards and Sarah Taylor helped England post an imposing 266 for six in their final Super Sixes match, and although Amy Satterthwaite smashed a century for New Zealand, they fell short of their target on 251 for nine.
The victory was immaterial, however, as West Indies' surprise win over Australia earlier in the day saw them join the Southern Stars in this weekend's final.
Instead of defending their title, England will now face the White Ferns again in Friday's third place play-off and Edwards admitted it was not the outcome she had hoped for.
"Halfway through the game we got that (Australia) result, but it was about putting in a professional performance today and the girls certainly did that," she said.
"I'm very proud of the way we've ended this match, but obviously bitterly disappointed in the grander scheme of things.
"It's our own fault. Inconsistency at the front of the tournament has cost us and we're probably playing or best cricket now.
"For the last two weeks it's been a rollercoaster for this team and we've dealt with it brilliantly. Today it's just disappointing that it's all ended but I'm very proud of the England dressing room right now.
"It's always a good contest between us and the Kiwis so we'll come back Friday, there's third place to play for and we'll all be looking for that."
Edwards and Danielle Wyatt (26) made a confident start with the bat for England until the stand was broken on 59, with the latter falling to a superb diving catch from Nicola Browne.
Replacement Taylor then escaped a fourth successive duck by the skin of her teeth when Lucy Doolan spilled a straightforward catch on the boundary.
The 23-year-old responded with successive fours before surviving another scare when an edge dropped between the wicket-keeper and first slip.
With luck on her side, Taylor began to put together an entertaining innings but news then filtered through of Australia's defeat and the atmosphere quickly fell flat.
Edwards tried her best to lift things, passing her half-century with an eighth boundary, but the captain's stay was ended on 54 by Brown.
Taylor made the most of her earlier let-offs and also passed the fifty mark off just 57 balls, including 10 fours.
She had another near-miss in the 38th over, having swiped Suzie Bates to Sara McGlashan at midwicket. The catch was clean but replays suggested Bates had bowled a no ball and, after much deliberation, the third umpire agreed.
Taylor replied with a thumping six off the free hit, but her luck finally ran out two overs later when, on 88, she succumbed to another delivery from Bates with Brown again showing safe hands.
Laura Marsh, Arran Brindle and Lydia Greenway soon followed but late cameos from Heather Knight (28 not out) and Jenny Gunn (23no) saw England through to the end.
New Zealand lost Doolan early on, but a second-wicket partnership quickly blossomed between Bates and Satterthwaite.
Some woeful fielding failed to help England as the White Ferns pair racked up a century stand, and Edwards' side were left even more frustrated by a poor decision which saw Satterthwaite survive an appeal on 55, despite more than a hint of an edge to Taylor behind the stumps.
Gunn eventually broke the partnership on 134, bowling Bates for 79, and a further breakthrough followed with the dismissal of Sophie Devine (17), but Satterthwaite reached her second ODI century, from 120 balls, with another boundary.
However, the runs began to dry up when her stint was ended on 103 by Wyatt in the next over, and England - helped by Holly Colvins' three for 48 - claimed the next five wickets for just 23 to wrap up the win.