If last night's opening game of England's cricket tour is an accurate pointer to what the next seven weeks hold, there shouldn't be any grumbles on the entertainment meter.

New Zealand won the tri-series T20 clash in Wellington by 12 runs, the result in doubt until the last over and you can't ask much more.

New Zealand's 196 for five, equalled the record at the Westpac Stadium; England gave the chase some serious cheek and it wasn't until swing bowler Trent Boult yorked Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett in consecutive deliveries in the 18th over that the game moved decisively New Zealand's way.

New Zealand now have their nose in front in the bid to join Australia in the series final at Eden Park next Wednesday. They meet the Aussies in an Eden Park blockbuster on Friday night before ending the round robin against England in Hamilton on Sunday.


The pitch looked weird, a large, rectangular bald spot gave rise to puzzlement before the match began. As it happened, and the scores backed it, the pitch played far better than anticipated. Think books and covers.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was man of the match for his clever, skilful 72 off just 46 balls. Add in a fine diving direct hit to run out James Vince from mid off and he had much to savour. If he felt any pressure after a lean run of T20 scores - 0, 9 and 8 off a combined 36 balls in his last three innings - it didn't show, once he'd got past his first ball.

Williamson should have been run out by bowler Mark Wood, who made a complete hash of a throw at the stumps with the batsman well short. He missed and Williamson, after getting his eye in, was off.

He put on 82 in nine overs with Martin Guptill, who went past 50 for the third time in seven T20 innings this summer. Guptill hit three sixes, no surprise there. But four from Williamson? That did. His innings had the feel of an emphatic answer to those doubting his place at No 3 in the T20 lineup.

Debutants Mark Chapman (20 off 13 balls) and Tim Seifert (14 not out off six) cleared their throats to good effect late on.

"They were outstanding," Williamson said. "They showed their power, which allowed us to get an above par total."

Alex Hales had England ahead of the required rate early on, taking 20 off a Boult over, Dawid Malan continued his strong T20 form with a brisk 59 and David Willey clouted 21 off 10. Catches were dropped by Mitchell Santner and Tim Southee - by contrast Chris Jordan took a pearler, one-handed above his head on the long off boundary to remove the dangerous Colin de Grandhomme first ball.

The last word went to Boult. England needed 48 off the last four overs. That's very gettable in this form, however 25 off the last was not.

"Maybe 10 or 15 too many," was stand-in captain Jos Buttler's assessment of the New Zealand innings. And in the end that was about the difference in the match.

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