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February 9, 2008
New Zealand bounced back from the disappointment of losing both Twenty20s against England, with an emphatic six-wicket win in the first one-dayer in Wellington. England were put on the back foot right from the outset, limping to a feeble 130 which New Zealand knocked off with 20 overs to spare.
The contrast between the two sides couldn't have been greater following the Twenty20s. Gone were Dimitri Mascarenhas and Luke Wright; in came Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook. Both are perfectly decent replacements, but why did England change a winning side? The Wellington pitch was stodgy, the New Zealand bowling miserly and accurate, and England simply couldn't force the pace, perfectly illustrated by their boundary count of seven fours. Poor running and a trio of run-outs completed a dismal effort.
New Zealand were proficient from the word go. Chasing such a meagre total can often play tricks with batting sides, but Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder ensured there were no hiccups with a dominant opening stand of 61. In the past week Ryder has attracted a lot of media attention for his expansive waistline, but today he went some way to dispelling the theory that chubbiness is a barrier to success with an invigorating 31 from 50 balls. His first boundary was flicked nonchalantly over midwicket for six; his first two fours flayed with immense power past point and through the leg side.
But there is more to Ryder than his obvious power, with deft glances to leg and a solid defensive technique to the seamers. Meanwhile McCullum was almost too aggressive for his own good - charging the bowlers and upper-cutting without care to third man - and took a while to settle down before lofting Ryan Sidebottom for the shot of the day, a lovely lofted six over long-on. The pair's fifty partnership took 64 balls; in contrast, England's took 95.
Ryder's confidence spilled over when he tried to pull Stuart Broad into the midwicket stand and was easily caught by Wright, while McCullum was strangled down the leg side. New Zealand, though, were never in any serious danger. England had already lost the match with the bat.
England were utterly unable to force the pace or time the ball, and New Zealand's bowlers - in particular Scott Styris and Chris Martin - capitalised impressively, taking full advantage of a helpful pitch.
England hit just seven fours in their innings - testament to the excellence of New Zealand's ability to adapt to the conditions. Martin and Kyle Mills both bowled immaculate opening spells - Martin exclusively around the wicket - and from very early on, it was obvious this wasn't a pitch for extravagant strokeplay. However, Phil Mustard couldn't always rein in his attacking instincts, twice inside-edging Martin with ugly leg-side swings. Just when England looked to have adapted to the conditions, Cook was bowled by Martin with the penultimate ball of the 10th over, by which time England were 34 for 1.
Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen both inside-edged onto the stumps, while Mustard crept further into his shell before Styris bowled him for a laborious 31. The pitch was tailor-made for Styris, in particular, who bowled a perfect line and length, mixing up his off-cutters with slower balls and a medley of other variations to pick up his most economical figures in one-dayers.
And then came the run-outs, to further compound England's woes. New Zealand were electric in the field from the outset - that much is true - but England didn't help their cause one little bit, with Owais Shah involved in all three. The first was a particularly playground effort, ball-watching to leave Paul Collingwood stranded. Graeme Swann was also run out, before Shah's dozy running cost him his own wicket - and England's innings was as good as finished.
New Zealand marshalled the game from the outset - remarkable, really, given how emphatically they were outplayed in the last week. It has enlivened what was being billed as a potentially one-sided series.
Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Dolphins and Lahore Lions in Bangalore
The Plays of the day from the CLT20 match between Kings XI Punjab and Northern Knights, in Mohali