Saxton Oval: New Zealand produced a top-class display of death-overs bowling to deny a rampant England and go 2-1 up in the five-match series here on Tuesday.
Having racked up 180/7 on the back of another bruising batting display from Colin de Grandhomme (55), New Zealand were on the mat, with England cruising in the chase at 139/2 in the 15th over, requiring 42 off the last 31 balls, with eight wickets in hand.
But Eoin Morgan, having already punched Mitchell Santner for two sixes in the over, dared to take on the left-arm spinner one more time, off the last ball of the over, but slogged him into the hands of cow corner. Having been afforded the slightest of openings, New Zealand proceeded to kick the door down, snaring five wickets for ten runs, and consigning a rattled England to a 14-run defeat.
Morgan's dismissal ended a 49-run third-wicket stand with James Vince that had seemed set to carry England to victory. Following Morgan to the crease was Sam Curran, who had faced a total of six balls in the series prior to this game, for nine runs. Sensing the opportunity to go for the kill, Tim Southee, the New Zealand captain, brought himself back on and the early signs of disarray emerged.
Having collected three singles off the first three balls of the over, Billings called for a single, only to be sent back by Vince. To his misfortune, the side on the field was New Zealand, who routinely convert quarter-to-half chances, and make impossibly tough catches and superhuman feats of athleticism appear commonplace. In this instance, it resulted in Colin Munro rushing in from backward point and swooping down in front, with one stump to aim at, and felling them with a direct hit, an ICC report said.
The three-run over had pushed the required run rate back up towards the 10-run mark. Blair Tickner, in his second game as an international cricketer, tightened the screws by conceding just five runs, including a wide, off the first five balls of the 17th over, and off the last, struck the most decisive blow when Vince unleashed an uppish drive and picked out mid-off.
Lockie Ferguson's double-strike in the 18th pushed England further up against a wall, and from there, the choke was well and truly on. In all, England managed just one boundary ? a six ? in the last 34 balls of the chase.
It was far from how they had begun, with Tom Banton unfurling a series of boundaries at the start. Though he fell as early as in the third over, he had set the tone for England by then, with 27 on the board. Dawid Malan and Vince then used the platform to consolidate with a second-wicket stand of 63. When it did eventually end, it was to a harmless full toss from Ish Sodhi that was mistimed into the hands of deep midwicket, and that was the first sign that things were about to go awry for England.
New Zealand had begun much in the same fashion, with Guptill continuing his strong form to raze 33 of 17 balls and dominate a first-wicket stand of 40 with Munro. New Zealand lost both their openers inside the Powerplay, and Tim Seifert by the eighth over, whereafter de Grandhomme reconstructed the innings in the company of Ross Taylor.
Their fourth-wicket stand of 66 was the highest of the innings, and paved the way for Jimmy Neesham and Mitchell Santner to do their thing, as New Zealand biffed 44 runs in the last five overs to finish with a match-winning total.
New Zealand - 180/7
England - 166/7