Flintoff ends England's losing streak
England 7 for 206 (Flintoff 72*, Bell 45) beat New Zealand 9 for 205 (Astle 45, Anderson 4-42) by 3 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Andrew Flintoff put the Ashes whitewash behind him and dragged England to their first win on the Australian tour as they beat New Zealand with a ball to spare at Hobart. England made hard work of the chase of 206 before Flintoff's 72 off 75 balls pushed them over the line in an incredibly tense finish.
England wanted only six runs from the final two overs, but a combination of Jamie Dalrymple's dismissal and Jon Lewis staying on strike held up Flintoff's attempts. He finally got to face with four balls left and hit a two to deep mid-on, patted the next delivery back to the bowler Craig McMillan and then found a gap straight down the ground to the relief of the dancing Barmy Army supporters on the hill. It was their first success in the 68 days since losing to the Prime Minister's XI in November.
The reply began at a crawl and when Flintoff arrived at 4 for 98 in the 31st over there was much to do. He worked with Ian Bell, who made a calm 45, and then found a willing ally in Paul Nixon. Together they edged England into the stronger position during a 60-run partnership that seemed certain of taking them to victory. However, Nixon, who was playing his second ODI, was run out in the third-last over for 15 and when Dalrymple was caught at point in the 49th, the result was still unclear.
Flintoff was lucky to be there after two close calls went his way in the final six overs. Mark Gillespie thought he had made the breakthrough in the 47th over when Flintoff skied a high ball to Ross Taylor at mid-on, but a late waist-high no-ball call from the square-leg umpire rightly reprieved Flintoff at a critical moment.
Two overs before, after the required run-rate edged above six, he tried to relieve the pressure with a slog to deep midwicket off Daniel Vettori. The ball landed just inside the rope but Taylor was too far in and was unable to take the chance running back towards the boundary.
In a match that barely moved out of second gear, England showed no intention of getting ahead of the run-rate in a laborious opening. Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss managed only three boundaries in the first ten overs as they pushed and prodded their way to 0 for 24. James Franklin ensured neither of them capitalised on their start, having Vaughan caught at midwicket attempting a pull on 17, and trapping Strauss with another doubtful lbw decision. Vaughan was not 100% during his innings and needed a runner for a hamstring problem, which he was due to have scans on after the match.
Bell stabilised England's innings but he and Paul Collingwood fell to Jeetan Patel's impressive offspin and he ended with 2 for 34. Patel also showed his skills in the field with a direct hit run-out from backward point to send Ed Joyce back for 5, and he also removed Dalrymple in the second-last over with a smart catch.
While New Zealand's effort in the field was commendable, they were again let down by their batting. James Anderson put England on target with a solid display of fast and accurate bowling as he claimed 4 for 42, forcing New Zealand to rely on help from the tail to limp to 9 for 205.
Franklin and Shane Bond added 39 for the eighth wicket to give themselves something to defend but Anderson had already set the scene, troubling the top order and grabbing three dismissals in his opening spell. Nathan Astle was the only batsman to threaten a big score but he got a thick inside-edge on to his stumps off Collingwood for 45. Peter Fulton (27) and Craig McMillan (22) also wasted their starts after Taylor, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum fell victim to Anderson.
The contest did little to suggest either side will match Australia's limited-overs aggression but England finally have a chance to take their momentum into a clash with the hosts. They face Australia at Brisbane on Friday.