Chester-le-Street - England captain Eoin Morgan opted to bat first after winning the toss in his side's crunch Cricket World Cup match against New Zealand at the Riverside on Wednesday.
Victory for either team would see them into the semi-finals.
New Zealand would still be likely to go through on net run-rate even if they lose but a defeat for England, also looking to win the World Cup for the first time, would see them knocked out if Pakistan beat Bangladesh at Lord's on Friday.
All three of England's defeats during the tournament have come when batting second and Morgan said at the toss: "All of the pitches we have played on have got slower, lower and trickier so hopefully today's the same. It seems to have become a trend in the tournament.
"There's more on the line today. We're excited. It feels like a quarter-final. It's why we play the game and train hard."
England were unchanged from the side that bounced back after two straight defeats with a 31-run win over previously unbeaten India at Edgbaston on Sunday.
But New Zealand, who have been defeated by Pakistan and reigning champions Australia in their past two matches, suffered a setback when in-form fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Ferguson is the second most successful bowler in this tournament with 17 wickets - only Australia's Mitchell Starc is ahead of him.
New Zealand dropped spinner Ish Sodhi and recalled pacemen Tim Southee and Matt Henry.
"We would have had a bat as well," said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
"The surface has been pretty good throughout so it is important we do the job with the ball."
But he admitted it had been a blow to lose Ferguson.
"He has been outstanding for us being able to pick up wickets. He has a little bit of a hamstring niggle. Hopefully he recovers quickly."
But the Black Caps were able to call on a seasoned replacement in Southee, playing his first match of this tournament.
"He is very, very experienced," said Williamson. "It is great he is on the park. Hopefully he can have an impact."
Southee returned stunning figures of 7-33 when New Zealand skittled out England for 123 in Wellington in the 2015 World Cup.
New Zealand went on to reach the final before losing to co-hosts Australia, while the result proved a catalyst for England's white-ball revival that saw them climb to the top of the one-day international rankings.
Eoin Morgan (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wkt), Liam Plunkett, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood
Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wkt), Jimmy Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult
Umpires: Sundaram Ravi (IND), Rod Tucker (AUS)
TV umpire: Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS)