Image courtesy of: Zimbio
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson scored an unbeaten 112, but he was unable to get his side across the finish line as England escaped with a four-run win in Wellington.
Opting to bowl first, New Zealand got an early breakthrough as England opener Jason Roy was caught by Martin Guptill in the slip cordon off the bowling of Trent Boult for 15.
Joe Root fared a little better as he scored 20 before being caught by Ish Sodhi at mid-off off the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme.
Jonny Bairstow could not get going either as he was clean bowled by Sodhi for 19.
England captain Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes stabilised the innings with a 71-run partnership before Morgan was cleaned up by Tim Southee for 48.
Stokes went on to make 39 before he was caught by Colin Munro at long-off off the bowling of Sodhi.
Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler smashed a 23-ball 29, while Moeen Ali hammered a 19-ball 23 as England continued to lose wickets at regular intervals.
In the end, the tourists finished ended up being bowled out for 234.
Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Boult snapped up two. As for Southee and Munro, they chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing 235 to win, England lost opener Martin Guptill early on as he was caught by Tom Curran at mid-on off the bowling of Chris Woakes for three runs.
Munro and Williamson made up for the loss of Guptill with a 68-run partnership before Munro was caught by Stokes at short cover off the bowling of Adil Rashid for 49.
New Zealand began to collapse after Munro’s dismissal as they went from 80/2 to being reduced to 103/6.
Williamson and Mitchell Santner halted England’s charge with a 96-run stand before Santner was run out by Woakes for 41.
Southee fell shortly after, but Williamson kept New Zealand in the hunt as they went into the last over needing 15 runs to win.
Williamson scored 10 runs off the first four balls before Woakes sealed the deal by bowling two brilliant deliveries that the New Zealand skipper could not score off.
Williamson finished unbeaten on 112 off 143 balls, which included six boundaries and two sixes.
Moeen was the most successful bowler with three wickets, while Woakes and Rashid claimed two wickets each.
Williamson was gutted to have lost, and said: “Very frustrating. Credit to England, they had to assess and get a good total at the halfway stage. They deserved the win. We stumbled a bit in the middle and it hit us, meant we had to get deeper in the game. This is kind of why we chose to bowl – we weren’t sure how the wicket would play. The bowling unit did a good job. But it was a competitive total from them.
“We started well and stumbled. Santner did well. We sort of knew hitting would be difficult. Our plans kept changing as we lost wickets. Credit to their how the spinners in the middle. They deserved to win, just a shame we got so close. There’s a few deliveries you have in your mind, but when they’re executed well, you can’t hit them. No concern about the middle order, no.”
Morgan was relieved to have won, and said: “Brilliant game of cricket, again. We’re very fortunate that the fans came out to support us. Great atmosphere. We took a huge amount of commitment and overthinking to assess this pitch. We just couldn’t get going. The sun was out and it was a hot day. We knew we would’ve been in the game if we got somewhere between 220-240.
“Our spin twins did a fantastic job on a wicket that offered some turn. The pressure shifted a little bit with the Williamson-Santner partnership. It was a very tight game, could’ve gone either way. I think it’s important for the game. It can’t be crash bang wallop.
“When there’s something on offer for everybody, it rejuvenates everyone. Woakes is Mr. Reliable, he’s defended 13 against Dhoni for us. He’s a bit of an unsung hero for us with bat and ball.”
Moeen was named Man of the Match, and said: “Brilliant game, very tight. Fantastic last few overs by us. When I went in I tried to have a whack. It was a difficult wicket. A good one for spinners. My plan was to bowl tight and the wickets came. They weren’t great balls or anything.
“Wanted to build pressure and hopefully get wickets because of it, that’s my plan in ODIs as an off-spinner. It was nice to bowl my ten overs through. In the end it takes only one over each way and we knew we could win the game.”