An exquisite display of batting from Brendon McCullum was backed up by a tremendous team effort with the ball, as the BLACKCAPS levelled the ANZ Twenty20 International series with a convincing 55 run victory over England at Seddon Park, Hamilton.
Having won the toss and opted to bowl first, England became victims of a McCullum master-class, as the skipper romped 74 from 38 deliveries to lead his side to a total of 192 for six.
England’s response stalled early after they lost three cheap wickets. Joss Buttler (54) did his best to revive the situation, but the in-form wicketkeeper was fighting an uphill battle and England was eventually dismissed for 137 after 19.3 overs.
Mitchell McClenaghan struck on consecutive balls in the second over to see the dangerous duo of Alex Hales (5) and Luke Wright (0) gone for minimal damage. Jonny Bairstow’s (8) dismissal soon after improved matters further for the BLACKCAPS, as England was reduced to 35 for three.
That brought together the key figures of opener Michael Lumb and Eoin Morgan, but runs were hard to come by for the pair as Ian Butler put the squeeze on with the ball and finished with the outrageously economic figures of two for nine from four overs.
While England never threatened the BLACKCAPS total at any point, Joss Buttler once again showed his class with a resilient half-century. It was a consolation innings for English fans, who had little to cheer about.
James Franklin was introduced in the 13th over and made a big impact, collecting career best Twenty20 figures of four for 15 from 3.3 overs. Nathan McCullum also got one, while Boult was on target in the field to run out Samit Patel.
It was a dominant display with the ball, never allowing England a sniff of victory.
Earlier, the BLACKCAPS had got off to a rousing start, with openers Hamish Rutherford (40) and Martin Guptill (47) taking 54 from the opening power-play (six overs).
Their stand was broken on 75 when Rutherford was caught by Buttler off the bowling of Wright. Guptill followed in the 12th over, before Taylor fell cheaply on four seven balls later.
Remaining at the crease though was McCullum and after a reasonably conservative start the 31 year-old treated the crowd to a series of beautifully destructive blows.
It was his counterpart, English captain Stuart Broad, who suffered most from the onslaught, as McCullum struck three of his five sixes off the 19th over. It complemented the six fours he’d struck nicely and left him with a strike-rate just shy of 200.
It came to an end on the penultimate ball of the innings, but the brilliant blitz had lifted them well beyond the 160 total they had once been heading for. James Franklin got away a four off the final delivery to cap off a successful display with the bat from the hosts.
Undoubtedly a huge improvement from the first Twenty20 in Auckland, the BLACKCAPS now head to Wellington for the decider on Friday night. You can be sure that England will fight back hard and be equally sure the BLACKCAPS will be desperate to carry over the momentum from tonight’s game.