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The scene of New Zealand's greatest runchase last night provided another epic ODI victory, led by skipper Brendon McCullum and iced by a courageous and hobbling Martin Guptill.
McCullum cracked an unbeaten 69 off 61 balls to guide New Zealand to a three-wicket win over England in the first ODI as they chased down 259 with seven balls to spare.
But the biggest roar from a crowd of 6944 went to Guptill who limped back on one leg after straining his left hamstring when dashing a quick single.
Having retired hurt on three, he returned at the fall of the seventh wicket and cracked Chris Woakes for consecutive boundaries to end 27 not out after hitting the winning single.
As they say, there's something about Hamilton. There were shades of McCullum's starring middle order role from when New Zealand chased down 347 to beat Australia at Seddon Park six years ago.
England's cricketers will join other international sporting teams in cursing the city. Their previous three visits to Seddon Park also ended in defeats, in the 2008 ODI and test, and last week's T20 international.
Guptill will be reassessed today but will be in serious doubt for the ODI series at least, and potentially the first test in Dunedin on March 6. Left-hander Hamish Rutherford is the most likely replacement for game two in Napier on Wednesday.
There was more injury drama, too, with fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan also set for an extended period on the sidelines.
McClenaghan departed the field, ashen faced, with two deliveries left in his allotted 10 overs. Having taken 4-56 to continue his flying start to international cricket in his fourth ODI, McClenaghan's series is almost certainly over with a side strain.
Trent Boult, omitted for game one, is the likely replacement for Napier. Ian Butler could also be recalled to the squad or Tim Southee potentially rushed back ahead of schedule after taking nine Plunket Shield wickets against Wellington in his return from thumb surgery.
Amid all the chaos, Kane Williamson was the steady hand New Zealand needed. He watched Ross Taylor (22 off 38) struggle before skying a cross-bat catch, and was set to bat through.
But on 74 he was sent back by McCullum and brilliantly run out by the Ian Bell/Woakes combination, a needless dismissal that had New Zealand teetering again.
They added 34 in the power play, losing James Franklin, as Brendon McCullum smacked Steve Finn and James Anderson into the crowd.
Nathan McCullum clouted spinner Graeme Swann for six but Swann removed him lbw two balls later after third umpire Rod Tucker agonised over New Zealand's challenge. Replays suggested it was bat and pad at the same time but umpire Gary Baxter's decision stood.
A patchy New Zealand performance in the field was boosted by McClenaghan's late wickets, an outstanding Kyle Mills spell and some scratchy batting from Jonathan Trott (68 off 90 balls) in his first international in two months.
The tourists were dismissed for 258 in the final over after they were well set at 163-2 when the power play was called in the 35th over. They only managed 27 in the power play and their last eight wickets fell for 74.
Mills, New Zealand's second-highest ODI wicket-taker, snared 2-32 and conceded eight runs off two power play overs.
England got in a tangle when ready to launch, and Mills removal of Eoin Morgan for one was a tactical triumph as they packed the point region with three fielders.
A handy domestic performer, Andrew Ellis is not a third seamer at international level and his 1-67 off 10 overs put the Black Caps under the pump. He bowled too short for his pace and was picked off.
England welcomed in test frontliners Trott, Alistair Cook, Bell, Swann and Anderson. Cook faced 13 balls before he was skittled by a ripper from McClenaghan.
Bell looked polished in crafting 64 off 79, helped by a dropped catch by BJ Watling on 26, but Trott clearly needed the run in his first outing since the Nagpur test in December.
The promising Joe Root (56 off 64) had them well set, after a DRS reprieve on 32 when Tucker overturned a caught behind decision off Mills.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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