Rain washes out chase one over short
New Zealand 127 for 2 (McCullum 60*) v England 162 (Wright 52, Collingwood 37, Elliott 3-23) - No result
It was an unsatisfactory end to a frustrating day, which began with a four-hour delay for steady rain, included a 30-minute dinner break when the priority should have been to complete the match, and finished with New Zealand wondering if they will ever get a stroke of luck on this tour. England wouldn't have given up their hopes of winning either, but will clearly be the happier side at the late abandonment.
For much of New Zealand's 23-over chase, England appeared second favourites as McCullum played a calm innings, adding 54 in seven overs with Ross Taylor. However, as the light faded even more and the rain began to return, the gap between runs required and balls remaining grew wider. Scott Styris, not accustomed to the murky conditions, found it difficult to force the medium-pacers away.
Crucially, though, 10 came off the 19th over, bowled by Luke Wright, but McCullum was left to see his undefeated 60 off 51 balls come to nothing. Although it won't be at the forefront of New Zealand's minds in the immediate aftermath, they will reflect that they played a good deal better than at Chester-le-Street.
Their fielding held up well throughout England's innings - Daniel Flynn and Gareth Hopkins both holding fine diving catches - and the bowlers remained cool as the batsmen began flexing their muscles. This was especially true of Grant Elliott, making his ODI debut as New Zealand tried to cover for the absence of Jacob Oram, and his three wickets were some of England's most dangerous hitters. When Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah added 46 in five overs after the rain interruption, England were on course for around 175, but the last six wickets fell for 36 runs.
England's major positive came from Wright, who struck his second ODI fifty off 33 balls and his first as an opener to show why the selectors want to give him an extended run in the position. Michael Mason's second over cost 20, including a clean straight six and an even mightier blow, down on one knee, high over midwicket.
Wright's half-century came in the next over when he drilled Elliott through mid-off. Flynn came within inches of losing his front teeth for the second time on the tour as a horrid bounce took the ball flying past his face. Elliott, though, held his nerve and collected his first ODI wicket when Wright carved a catch down to long-off.
The innings had given the crowd plenty to cheer after Kevin Pietersen couldn't reproduce his Chester-le-Street thrills. Ian Bell, the hometown star, fell for a duck to third ball of the match but the crowd didn't appear too disappointed as Pietersen entered to huge cheers. He was quickly using his feet to the seamers and mowed an early boundary over midwicket. The expectation will be on him to repeat his feats from Sunday each time he walks out, but it won't always happen. On this occasion he struggled to find his timing and drove straight to mid-off for 13.
Two of England's young allrounders were now in charge of the innings, but Ravi Bopara was run out shortly after the resumption when he cut to cover and raced down the pitch, only to see Collingwood hadn't responded. Bopara turned, but Collingwood suddenly put his foot down and almost caught up. The run out was clear, although TV was needed to decide who departed. Bopara lost out by a few inches.
However, the wicket may have been a blessing for England as it brought in Shah, who hit the ball as cleanly as he did during his 49 off 25 balls at Chester-le-Street. It continued here with an effortless flick over deep square-leg before he was deceived by a good slower-ball from Elliott, who also removed Collingwood thanks to an excellent diving catch by Flynn at deep cover.
An intriguing chase was set up and for 19 overs it kept everyone interested. In the end, though, the feeling wasn't a rush of excitement at a close finish but at a lot of effort for nothing.
Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo