Guptill thwarts England on one good leg
Skipper Brendon McCullum and a hamstrung Martin Guptill boldly carried New Zealand to an uplifting victory against England in Hamilton last night.
McCullum made an unbeaten 69 off 61 balls and Guptill an inspired 27 off as many deliveries on one leg to get the Black Caps home by three wickets with seven balls to spare in front of 7000 overjoyed fans at Seddon Park in the first of three one-day internationals.
England made 258 before being dismissed with three balls left in the 50th over but Kane Williamson and McCullum provided the bulk of the reply before Guptill produced the Boys' Own storybook finish.
The opener retired hurt at the end of the sixth over after pulling up shortly before with a hamstring injury. He returned with New Zealand needing 41 from 25 balls and proceded to swing lustily with great effect to blast the hosts to a 1-0 lead. New Zealand also suffered another injury setback came at the end of the England innings, when raw paceman Mitchell McClenaghan was unable to compete his final over due to a side strain.
The injury to Guptill seems likely to rule him out of the next two one-day matches - with Hamish Rutherford, Daniel Flynn and Rob Nicol possible replacements - and must put at least a small question mark over his participation in the first test starting in Dunedin on March 6.
McClenaghan faces a spell on the sidelines, opening the door for Tim Southee to return to international play after coming through his return from a thumb injury that ruled him out of the test and one-dayers in South Africa in fine shape for Northern Districts over the past four days.
The home team's bowling effort was spearheaded by veteran seamer Kyle Mills.
The 33-year-old bowled an exemplary line and length to finish with the hugely impressive figures of 10-2-32-2.
His demanding spells chiefly kept England from accelerating through the innings despite having wickets in hand.
Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott worked to rebuild after skipper Alastair Cook fell early as the new-ball partnership featuring the guile of Mills and the enthusiasm of McClenaghan proved testing.
Bell received a surprising let-off when the usually safe hands of BJ Watling - even without the keeping gloves - spilled a skier to midwicket in Nathan McCullum's first over when the right-hander was on 26.
He got through to 64 off 79 balls and added 84 for the second wicket with Trott, who made 68 off 90 balls before being bowled by Mills when the visitors were looking for him to bat through to the late overs.
The hosts restricted England to just 27 runs in the batting powerplay and New Zealand would have gone to the tea break satisified with their work despite lacking bowling oomph from their other options.
In New Zealand's chase, former skipper Ross Taylor's lean trot on return continued when he top-edged a hook off Chris Woakes to long leg for 22 off 38 balls but Kane Williamson played with calm assurance.
He had a life on 73 when he pulled Graeme Swann ferociously to short midwicket and James Anderson couldn't hold the chance at the end of the 33rd over but perished the following over to sharp fielding from Bell and bowler Woakes for 74 off 99 balls.
New Zealand v England England A Cook b McClenaghan 4 I Bell c B.
McCullum b Franklin 64 J Trott b Mills 68 J Root b Franklin 56 E Morgan c Guptill b Mills 1 J Buttler c Elliott b McClenaghan 21 C Woakes c B.
McCullum b Ellis 17 S Broad c B.
McCullum b McClenaghan 1 G Swann c Taylor b Franklin 16 S Finn c Guptill b McClenaghan 0 J Anderson not out 0 Extras (4lb, 5w, 1nb) 10 Total (all out, 49.3 overs) 258
Fall: 11, 95, 184, 190, 220, 222, 228, 247, 248, 258. Bowling: K Mills 10-2-32-2, M McClenaghan 9.4-0-56-4 (2w), A Ellis 10-0-67-1 (2w, 1nb), N McCullum 10-0-42-0, J Franklin 6.3-0-38-3, K Williamson 2.2-0-12-0, G Elliott 1-0-7-0 (11).
New Zealand BJ Watling b Anderson 2 M Guptill not out 27 K Williamson run out 74 R Taylor c Finn b Woakes 22 G Elliott c Morgan b Woakes 22 B McCullum not out 69 J Franklin c Buttler b Finn 3 N McCullum lbw b Swann 14 A Ellis c Finn b Broad 13 Extras (7lb, 6w) 13 Total (for 7 wkts, 48.5 overs) 259
Fall: 2, 75, 124, 142, 155, 186, 218. Bowling: J Anderson 9-1-36-1 (1w), S Finn 10-0-54-1 (3w), S Broad 9.5-1-56-1 (2w), C Woakes 10-0-52-2, G Swann 10-0-54-1.
New Zealand won by three wickets