ENGLAND were ambushed by ‘wounded soldier’ Martin Guptill as New Zealand won the first one-day international by three wickets.
Alastair Cook’s tourists appeared to be on course for victory at several stages, but in the end Guptill and New Zealand captain Brendon Mc- Cullum (69no) were triumphant at Seddon Park.
After being put in England failed to capitalise on half-centuries from Ian Bell (64), Jonathan Trott (68) and Joe Root (56).
Instead, Mitchell McClenaghan – who was unable to complete his final over because of a series-ending side strain – finished with four for 56 as England ran out of steam on 258 all out.
Then Kane Williamson (74) gave the run chase early substance before McCullum upped the ante down at number six.
But it was Guptill, after initially retiring on three with a hamstring strain, who returned to remarkable effect at number nine, hitting 24 runs from ten balls as he and Mc- Cullum sealed victory with seven balls to spare.
There were four fours and a six in his unbeaten 27 and Cook said: ‘‘When you get seven wickets, the normal next man in is a bowler.
‘‘But it was an opening batter and he played very well.’’ McCullum did even more damage, hitting six fours and three sixes from 61 balls.
‘‘He’s obviously a very dangerous player,’’ added Cook.
‘‘Whether he bats at the top of the order or coming in there at six, he’s very hard to bowl to. The trick is to try to get him out early.’’ The whole match was a case of what might have been for England.
‘‘We got ourselves in position to win,’’ said their captain.
‘‘But they got themselves over the line, and we couldn’t quite manage to put the pressure on them.
‘‘We just kept losing wickets at crucial times, and never really got the partnership towards the end of the innings, which could have got us up to 280 or 290.
‘‘We batted well up front, but probably loaded a little bit too much towards the end, put a bit too much pressure on our big hitters.
‘‘We got into an OK position to launch, then the guys at the end didn’t quite come off.
‘‘I think both sides would have felt disappointed losing that game.
‘‘Both sides kind of got themselves in position to win, and someone had to stand up and grab it by the scruff of the neck – and those two did it for New Zealand.’’ James Anderson achieved a piece of England cricket history by taking his 529th international wicket.
That is the most by any Englishman, surpassing Ian Botham – who was watching from a commentary box.
‘‘That’s a fantastic stat to have, and record to have, and he thoroughly deserves it,’’ said Cook.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott both reached the 20s before falling to Chris Woakes.
Taylor lost control with a hook shot and was caught at deep backward square, and Elliott was well held at point by Eoin Morgan.
Williamson coasted past a 70-ball 50 and, after surviving a tough chance to Anderson at mid-wicket off a fierce pull at Graeme Swann on 73, was still carrying the game when he was run out just a single later. Sent back by his captain, he was just short of his ground when Woakes got back to his stumps and deftly transferred Bell’s throw back behind him to break the bails.
It was a smart piece of work by the seamer, to add to his wickets.
Steven Finn soon had James Franklin caught behind attempting to hook in the powerplay, then just when the McCullum brothers were gathering ominous momentum, Nathan was given out lbw pushing forward to Swann.
After a torturous wait for DRS, third official Rod Tucker upheld Gary Baxter’s original decision on the basis ball had not definitely hit bat before pad.
It seemed a hammer blow.
But Brendon McCullum – who would hit three sixes and six fours in all – survived a tough chance to Trott in the outfield on 52 off Finn, and Guptill and he took telling advantage.
England’s trio of half-centurions had laid the foundations for a near par total in stands of 84 and 89 for the second and third wickets.
But when they were gone, the anticipated big finish did not materialise.
Cook went in the fourth over to a good ball from Mc- Clenaghan – bowled through the gate in defence by one that held its line.
Trott tucked McClenaghan off his pads for four from the first ball he faced, but needed another 60 deliveries before he registered his second boundary.
Bell mistimed a slog-sweep in Nathan McCullum’s first over and was dropped at deep mid-wicket by Watling on 26, and went on to his 50 from 67 balls with a chip from the crease off Andrew Ellis straight over long-on for his second six.
But soon afterwards, up the wicket to try to manufacture runs into the off side off Franklin, he edged behind.
Joined by Root, Trott gradually increased his strike rate.
But the big shots were hard work for both players.
Root was reprieved on 32 when the economical Kyle Mills thought he had him caught behind, as did umpire Baxter, only for DRS to overturn the decision.
Trott was bowled making room in the powerplay, then Morgan followed him for just a single when he speared a low catch to point, very well held by Guptill.
Root posted the quickest of England’s 50s, from 58 balls but containing just four fours.
Jos Buttler hit two sixes off 13 balls. But immediately after the second, crashing Mc- Clenaghan over wide long-on off the back foot, he toeended a full toss straight to extra-cover. Then Root went for a big hit and was bowled by Franklin.