There were fewer stars, fewer overs and much smaller stakes, but the beginning of New Zealand's build-up to the next Cricket World Cup has begun in the same way their last Cup campaign ended – with a loss to England.

In their first meeting since the fateful ODI World Cup final, England took the opening game of the five-match Twenty20 series, toppling the Black Caps by seven wickets.

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Chasing 154 for victory at Hagley Oval, England did it with minimal stress - requiring no super overs or arcane tiebreakers to secure this particular victory.

Given the game's relative lack of meaning, it was hardly a chance for revenge for the Black Caps – they'll have to wait four years for that – but instead an opportunity to kick-start another elongated build-up, with 25 further Twenty20 clashes to come before the next World Cup - the Twenty20 edition - rolls around in October.


On the basis of game one of 26, a better start with the bat will be the first thing on the agenda for coach Gary Stead to tweak.

Colin Munro and Martin Guptill, much maligned after poor opening partnerships in the United Kingdom, couldn't immediately reverse that in the shortest format, as the Black Caps were reduced to 7-1 after three overs. A Tom Curran maiden over was followed by a wicket for his brother Sam, as Guptill dragged a short ball onto his stumps whilst trying to alleviate the early pressure.

Munro and Tim Seifert did manage to whack three sixes in a 21-run over, but the Black Caps' innings was one bereft of an anchor and lacking rapid contributions. Munro spooned Chris Jordan straight to mid-wicket to depart for 21 from 20 balls, while Jordan also ended Seifert's stay with a borderline full toss, the wicketkeeper caught in the deep for a 26-ball 32.

Colin de Grandhomme came in and provided his usual blustering cameo – swatting his first ball lackadaisically for four before later bashing a one-handed six, but after reaching 73-2 after 10 overs, the Black Caps couldn't quite push on.

Ross Taylor (44 from 35) and Daryl Mitchell (30 not out from 17) added 56 from 38 balls, but they couldn't quite accelerate as they would have liked in the final throes, as all five of England's bowlers produced reasonably economical efforts.

Part of that was due to a somewhat slow-paced pitch, with England also struggling at times to accumulate, with an 18-run Scott Kuggeleijn over the majority of their early returns as they initially struggled to find the middle.

Mitchell Santner again showed his worth as a T20 bowler, claiming 3-23 with some delightful flight and deception, removing Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow and James Vince to give the hosts a sniff.

Unfortunately for the Black Caps, they were the only wickets to fall, and before his eventual dismissal, Vince had produced a match-winning display, bringing up his maiden Twenty20 half-century with a crucial 59 from 38 balls, taking a particular liking to the bowling of Kuggeleijn (0-35 from three overs) and Ish Sodhi (0-38 from four).


When Santner's spell ended, England needed 31 from 24 balls, but neither Lockie Ferguson nor Tim Southee could restrict Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings, Morgan slamming a four and a six to see England home with nine balls to spare - and ensuring there'd be no repeat of the tension at Lord's.