HAMILTON: A century by Ross Taylor and lusty late hitting by Mitch Santner delivered a last-over victory to New Zealand against England in their first one-day international in Hamilton on Sunday.
In a match filled with twists and turns, the outcome hung in the balance until Santer smacked a six in the final over to get New Zealand home with four balls to spare.
Rival captains Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan both said the initiative “ebbed and flowed” throughout the match.
“There wasn´t much between the sides and I think that´s reflected in the result,” added England skipper Morgan.
Taylor with 113 and Latham (79) paved the way for the New Zealand win and when England produced a middle-order collapse Santner hit a match-winning 45 off 27 deliveries.
Ben Stokes celebrated his return to international cricket with the crucial wicket of Latham to snap a 178-run stand with Taylor and have New Zealand at 205 for four in the 40th over.
They slipped further to 244 for seven before Santner lashed out to chase down England´s 284 for eight.
“When we broke the partnership we knew we were back in the game but taking it towards the end we just didn´t have enough in the tank,” said Morgan.
Williamson, who won the toss and elected to bowl, expecting the dew to have an effect late in the day-night match, singled out key moments which went New Zealand´s way, particularly with bowling late in the England innings.
“We had to play a lot of cricket before the dew came in but I think it was a factor tonight,” he said.
“A lot of credit to the death bowling. To keep them to 70-something in the last 10 was a very good effort,” Williamson added.
“It was a brilliant partnership (from Taylor and Latham) but also from Mitch Santner at the end to bring us home.”
Whiff of victory
New Zealand were in trouble at the start of their run chase as they fell to three for 27 in the 10th over.
Taylor, with his 18th century, and Latham clawed the home side back into the game with their 178-run stand before Stokes stepped up to remove Latham for 79.
Latham´s dismissal sparked a middle-order collapse with three wickets falling for 10 runs.
As Taylor started to run out of partners, he tried to up the pace to get New Zealand home but with 25 balls remaining and New Zealand needing a further 45 runs, he was stumped on 113.
But if England had a whiff of victory, Santner had other ideas with a rapid two fours and four sixes to get New Zealand home.
Stokes, returning for his first international since a nightclub incident five months ago, had an undistinguished turn at bat after New Zealand won the toss and elected to bowl.
The all-rounder lasted 22 balls and was gone for 12 while the foundation of the England innings was laid by Root, with 71 off 75 deliveries and Buttler who belted 79 off 65 before he was run out off the penultimate ball.
England were looking at a score of more than 300 until tight New Zealand bowling restricted them to just 31 runs between the 42nd and 48th overs.
New Zealand were immediately in trouble at the start of their chase when Colin Munro belted a six off the second ball he faced and was gone two balls later without adding to his score.
Kane Williamson only managed eight off 23 balls and Martin Guptill went for 13.
Stokes, discarded by England for five months after a nightclub incident, had an economical four-overs in his first bowling spell that only cost 15 runs.
When he was recalled with Taylor and Latham in full flight and New Zealand 187 for three, he went for 11 in his first over before having Latham caught by Root at mid-on.