The BLACKCAPS have taken a one-nil lead in the ANZ International ODI Series, claiming an enthralling three wicket victory over England at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
The visitors were put into bat by the BLACKCAPS and put together a respectable first-innings total of 258 all out. The Kiwis' pursuit was filled with nervous moments, but finished in success as they surpassed the total with seven balls remaining thanks to a number of inspiring individual performances.
Brendon McCullum was one such player, putting in a true captain’s knock with an unbeaten 69 off 61 deliveries, in what was a measured performance right through to the final ball.
The sensational victory came at a cost though, with both Mitchell McClenaghan and Martin Guptill picking up injuries. McClenaghan picked up a side strain while bowling and has been ruled out of the remaining two matches in the series.
Guptill injured his hamstring and will undergo further assessment tomorrow. He did however return to the crease late in the innings and became the hero of the day with some sublime hitting to seal the deal. Although in visible discomfort, he inflicted some devastating blows and overall finished with an unbeaten 27.
The chase had got off to a wobbly start for the hosts, with Watling an early casualty when he was bowled by James Anderson for two.
When Guptill was forced from the field on three, the BLACKCAPS were in desperate need of someone to stand up and lead the way. Luckily Kane Williamson came forward to take the responsibility, playing a pivotal role to keep his side in the hunt.
The 22 year-old made 74 from 99 deliveries, before he was run out at the non-striker’s end, leaving the BLACKCAPS 142 for four.
His partner at the time was McCullum, who surprisingly came in at number six, but dealt to any hesitations about his place in the batting order with a memorable knock.
The skipper slammed six fours and three sixes, taking risks only when necessary and it paid dividends.
With 40 needed off the last four overs he and Gutpill found the middle of the bat when it mattered and knocked off the required runs after 48.5 overs.
It was a tremendous result, with Guptill’s reappearance at the end showing some great fighting qualities within the side.
England had earlier been on track to a score of 280 plus, but they were unable to capitalise on the foundations which had been laid down by the top order.
After McClenaghan claimed the key wicket of Alastair Cook (4) early on, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott slowly but surely went about rebuilding the English innings and together gained the momentum.
Bell, having arrived in New Zealand on Thursday, got his tour off to a decent start with 64 off 79 deliveries. His increasing aggression got the best of him though, getting a faint edge through to McCullum off the bowling of James Franklin.
Trott continued to steadily add to the total and found great assistance from Joe Root, who brought up his second One Day International half-century with 56. The pair carried their side through to 184 for two, until Trott finally succumbed on 68.
With 11 overs remaining and still seven wickets in hand, England had a great opportunity to build an imposing total, but will be disappointed with the way they finished the innings.
Much of that can be attributed to a resilient fight back from the New Zealand bowlers, with Mitchell McClenaghan (four for 56) and James Franklin (three for 38) leading the charge. Kyle Mills however was the most economic, with his accuracy shown in his figures – ten overs two for 32.
Root departed in the 45th over, while the dangerous Jos Buttler was held to 21. The late hitting that England was after never materialised and the BLACKCAPS continued to take wickets.
Incredibly England was completely dismissed after 49.3 overs, with the home side taking the last eight wickets for just 74 runs.
It wasn’t the perfect performance with the ball, but it was a spirited one and come Wednesday the BLACKCAPS will look to maintain that attitude for the second match at Napier's McLean Park.