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New Zealand wins thriller against England

Luke Wright’s allround show in vain as New Zealand wins high-scoring match by five runs

New Zealand wins thriller against England - Cricket News
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum scored 68 runs of 48 balls.
A high-scoring thriller at The Oval ended with a five-run win for New Zealand, who might have expected to win more comfortably once it had put on 201 for 4 after England chose to bowl on Tuesday (June 25) in the first of a two-match Twenty20 International series.  

New Zealand’s collective show of good batting eventually overcame a spirited England chase, with Luke Wright’s allround effort going in vain.  

Boyd Rankin, handed an England debut after having represented Ireland till 2012, was given the new ball and struck in the first over, getting a leaden-footed James Franklin caught behind. But the visions of a fairy tale debut and a low total to chase lasted only till the first over. After that, Hamish Rutherford cut loose and in Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain, he found the perfect partner.  

Rutherford used both muscle and timing to either pierce or go over the infield and found the fence with regularity. The second over, bowled by Chris Woakes, went for 19 runs and the tone for the innings was set. England’s cause wasn’t helped by Ravi Bopara shelling Rutherford on 25 at point off Jade Dernbach’s first ball in the fourth over.  

At the other end, McCullum was initially less expansive than Rutherford, but picked up the pace nicely, settling in quickly on a pitch that was a batting beauty. The 100-run stand came off just 56 balls after Rutherford had motored to a maiden T20I fifty in just 28 balls. However, Rutherford was undone by his impatience, when he looked good for a much bigger score.  

Wright, introduced in the attack in the 12th over, didn’t give much away, and Rutherford seemed reluctant to let England get in a quiet over, attempted another big shot, but only holed out to long-off for 62 off 35, leaving New Zealand 115 for 2. Wright was England’s most valuable bowler, getting the second big wicket of McCullum (68 off 48) too four overs later. With Ross Taylor still around, New Zealand was able to keep the scoreboard ticking, and crossed the psychological 200-run mark.  

England needed its reply to be similar in kind to New Zealand – with a blistering start, and that is what it got. Mitchell McClenaghan had given only three runs in the opening over, but he disappeared for a whopping 25-run over next up. Although Michael Lumb fell to Nathan McCullum soon after, the run flow never dried up.  

Wright seemed set from the moment he took guard, hitting his first ball to the fence. Alex Hales’ wicket – caught by Franklin off Ronnie Hira for 39 off 29 – had no effect on his scoring. He had reached a 29-ball half-century when the game changed once again within eight balls. Taylor, standing at first slip, defied gravity with a leaping catch to send back Eoin Morgan, the England captain, off Ian Butler. In the next over, McClenaghan struck an even more decisive blow, having Wright caught behind for 52 off 34 in a tight over.  

From looking well placed at 134 for 2 in 13.4 overs, England was 139 for 4, and needed 63 runs off the final five overs with two new men at the crease. Ravi Bopara gave it his all, and nearly pulled off a stunning win, but in the end, New Zealand’s total was just a mite out of reach.   The second T20I will take place at the same venue on Thursday.  

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