England took a one-nil lead in the opening match of the ANZ Twenty20 International series, claiming a 40 run victory in front of a 23,000 plus crowd at Eden Park, Auckland.
A monstrous first-innings total of 214 was always going to be hard to overcome for the home-side and so it proved, as the BLACKCAPS were restricted to 174 for nine.
The BLACKCAPS never managed to wrestle the momentum away from England and the pressure of the required run-rate saw wickets fall at crucial times throughout the innings.
Hamish Rutherford, on debut, had early success with a quick-fire 18 from 11 balls, including a maximum and two fours. Unfortunately though he was unable to push on from his bright start – a trend which would follow throughout the BLACKCAPS innings.
Martin Guptill showed the most promise with a hard fought 44 from 32 deliveries, however his dismissal in the 13th over all but ended the BLACKCAPS hopes.
Ross Taylor’s comeback match ended with 13 runs to his name, while captain Brendon McCullum chipped in with 10.
Colin Munro gave the chase some hope towards the end, crushing three big sixes in an entertaining 28 from 19. With the pressure so high though risks were forced to be taken on a regular basis and wickets began to tumble.
In the end the BLACKCAPS paid for their lack of a substantial partnership, allowing England to a first-up win and to rise up to third in the ICC Twenty20 rankings.
Earlier, the visitors had taken full advantage of the boundaries down the ground and posted an impressive 200 plus score for the BLACKCAPS to pursue.
There were no half-centuries or centuries, but plenty of everything else as the English top-order put on a clinic in clean hitting.
Alex Hale’s 21 was the lowest score by one of the top six, with all of them showing their destructive ability and giving the crowd catching practise.
Eoin Morgan (46 from 26) and Luke Wright (42 from 16) were two to play a key part in the innings and were well backed up towards the end by Jonny Bairstow (38) and Joss Butler (32*).
Aided by a few uncharacteristic mistakes in the field from the BLACKCAPS, England were able to reach 214 for seven – it would be enough.
The BLACKCAPS will get a chance to level the series on Tuesday at Seddon Park in Hamilton.