New Zealand set the ball rolling and secured an unassailable lead over hosts England in the two-match T20 series with a close five-run victory in the first match at London.
Chasing a mammoth total of 202, the home side had their backs to the wall from the start of the innings. However, they responded well by getting off to a flyer with Michael Lumb and Alex Hales slamming 25 runs off the third over from Mitchell McClenaghan. They brought up New Zealand’s 50 in the fourth over. In the same over, Nathan McCullum struck to get rid of Lumb with the score at 50 for one.
Hales was then joined by Luke Wright and the duo set about erasing the deficit between the ball remaining and the runs required. They did well to keep the opposition on their toes by maintaining a run rate of over 10 runs an over.
England reached 103 for one at the half-way stage, still needing 99 from the remaining 60 deliveries. The Kiwis were made to work hard on the field despite their batting efforts. They struck in the 11th over through Ronnie Hira, to dismiss Hales for 39. The wicket came completely against the run of play and gave the visitors some breathing space. At this stage, the home side were 105 for two, still needing 97 to win from 56 deliveries.
Skipper Eoin Morgan walked out but had to walk back to the pavilion just three overs later, thanks to a blinder-of-a-catch by Ross Taylor at slips. Morgan went after a length delivery bowled outside the offstump and got a thick outside edge. Taylor, at first slip, jumped high and clung on to a wonderful catch to pull the momentum back in New Zealand’s favour.
In the following over, England’s hopes of a victory were all but quashed, as Wright too chased a wide delivery, this time giving a regulation catch to Tom Latham behind the stumps. At this stage, England were down to 139 for four, still needing 63 from 30 balls.
Ravi Bopara kept England’s hopes alive by slammed two boundaries and a six off Corey Anderson in the 17th over to take the equation down to 35 from 18 deliveries.
Brendon McCullum then entrusted his brother Nathan McCullum to keep his side in the game and the latter did well to give away just nine runs and keep the pressure on the opposition.
With 26 to get from 12, Jos Buttler began the penultimate over from Ian Butler on a good note by playing a paddle shot for a six. However, Buttler ran out of luck as he and Bopara scrambled for a quick single, only for keeper Latham to find the stumps at the other end with Buttler short of his ground.
The drama carried on in the final over. New batsman Ben Stokes slammed a big six off the first delivery of the 20th over to bring the equation down to 10 runs to get from five deliveries. Anderson comes back well with a full delivery that cramped Stokes for room and did not allow him to score off it. He held his nerve for the rest of the over to eke out a five-run victory.