The fans at McLean Park in Napier were certainly treated to some brilliant entertainment in the second match of the ANZ ODI Series, but the home crowd would have gone home slightly disappointed after England levelled the series with an eight wicket victory.
Behind an outstanding century from Ross Taylor and dazzling 74 from Brendon McCullum the BLACKCAPS managed to post a respectable 269 in the first-innings – impressive considering the slow start they had made.
England’s response though was one full of composure and all of the top four played a hand in leading their side to success after 47.4 overs.
Alistair Cook (79) and Ian Bell (44) produced an opening partnership of 89 to immediately put their side on the front foot. In the 20th over Kane Williamson broke through with the wicket of Bell, but his replacement Jonathan Trott denied the BLACKCAPS any chance of a collapse.
Tim Southee’s return was highlighted by a sharp caught and bowled to see the end of Cook, but his departure only introduced young Joe Root, who arguably proved to be more of a threat than his predecessor.
Root showed plenty of aggression to make an unbeaten 79 from 56 deliveries and bring up a comfortable victory for his side. Trott played an admirable supporting role, finishing with an unbeaten 65 from 73 deliveries.
The BLACKCAPS had their chances, but all in all it was a clinical display from the English.
Earlier, England’s fast bowling unit had put the pressure on the BLACKCAPS and held them to 19 for two after nine overs.
Kane Williamson (33) and Taylor (100) went about rebuilding the innings in a sensible and measured approach, but just as they began to take the momentum, Williamson fell to Chris Woakes when he got an inside edge onto his stumps.
The BLACKCAPS continued to edge their way towards respectability, before a fifth wicket partnership worth 100 between Taylor and McCullum ignited the innings with some punishing blows.
McCullum whacked 74 from 36 balls to have a strike rate of over 200. Stuart Broad went for 21 in the 42nd over, with the Kiwi pair surpassing 200 in the process.
While McCullum finally succumbed when he was caught on the boundary, Taylor sent BLACKCAPS fans around the country into frenzy with his seventh ODI century. It was a great knock and an exciting sign to see the 28 year-old return to top form.
Late wickets saw the hosts bowled out after 48.5 overs, but they would have gone into the shed somewhat pleased with their comeback.
Unfortunately though, it was always a wee bit short of a par score on the fantastic McLean Park wicket and England made no mistake in proving that.
James Anderson was responsible for the majority of the BLACKCAPS struggles at the top of the order, taking impressive figures of five for 34 from 9.5 overs.
It’s the first of the BLACKCAPS opportunities to close out the series gone – second chance come on Saturday in the decider at Eden Park.