The opening match was a thrilling affair as New Zealand won by three wickets in the final over to take a 1-0 lead ahead of Wednesday’s second ODI.
England posted 284-8 batting first, a total that was considered slightly under par despite the best efforts of Jos Buttler (79) and Joe Root (71).
The visitors then struck early in reply as the Kiwi’s were reduced to 27-3, but Ross Taylor (113) and Tom Latham (79) batted superbly to wrestle the match back in their favour.
New Zealand needed 34 off the final three overs after Taylor was stumped off Adil Rashid but it was Mitchell Santner, a recent addition to Derbyshire’s Vitality Blast squad, who struck an unbeaten 45 from just 27 balls to see his side home.
For England, they will take comfort from the fact that the match saw the long-awaited return of all-rounder Ben Stokes, who claimed 2-43 in a competent return to international cricket.
Attention now turns to Tauranga where England will look to tie things up, which they will be confident of doing given their impressive recent form in 50-over cricket.
England’s big guns were unable to gather any serious momentum with the bat, and any total below 300 is more than gettable for the quality in their opponents’ line-up.
But there were still many positives to take from Tauranga, as despite being up against it for large parts, England were still able to run New Zealand close and would have won at the death if it wasn’t for the brilliance of Santner.
As for England’s bowling attack, the new ball duo of David Willey and Chris Woakes did their job in removing New Zealand’s top three but it was during the middle of the innings where England lacked fire-power, which allowed Taylor and Latham to dictate terms.
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