England have won an ODI at the Westpac, but it was a desperately close-run thing. After five failed attempts, most of them involving plenty of heartache, they all but succumbed to a sixth thanks to a wonderful century from Kane Williamson
, which reignited New Zealand's run-chase after their middle order had collapsed to Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali
Williamson and the in-form Mitchell Santner
revived the chase with a stand of 96 in 21 overs after New Zealand lost 5 for 23 to tumble from a rock-solid 80 for 1 to 103 for 6. They entered the last five overs needing 36 but, in a crucial intervention, Chris Woakes got his fingertips on a straight drive from Williamson, sending the ball into the non-striker's stumps with Santner short.
The arrival of a new batsman gave England renewed intent. Tim Southee wasn't allowed to settle before pulled to deep square leg and though Williamson reached his century of 133 balls, 15 off the final over proved tantalisingly out of reach. With 13 required from four, Williamson pulled Woakes over the leg side for a huge six, but Woakes then adjusted his length, went full, and refused to give up any more boundaries - Williamson picked out mid-off against a full toss with the penultimate delivery, then swung and missed at the last ball.
The pitches at this ground have been a talking point all season. Trent Boult's first ball of the match disturbed the surface, some deliveries climbed from a length, others squatted and there was considerable turn. It did, though, produce an absorbing finish.
England battled to reach 234, bowled out off the final ball of the innings, and it was spin that put them back on top. Woakes had removed Martin Guptill early, chipping a catch to mid-on as driving continued to be difficult, but Colin Munro - living a charmed life - and Williamson took New Zealand to 80 for 1 in the 18th over.
Rashid broke through in his second over, a googly encouraging Munro to chip towards cover where Ben Stokes sprang to his left to hold a superb mid-air catch. Then it was over to Moeen. His first delivery was a huge full toss deposited over midwicket by Williamson, but he soon settled. A skittish Mark Chapman played a poor stroke to find point and Tom Latham was lbw first ball after England correctly called for a review.
In Rashid's next over, Henry Nicholls' poor series continued when he was completely flummoxed by Rashid's leg-break and used up New Zealand's review in the process - though he hadn't nicked the ball that ended up at slip, he had been struck plumb in front. When consolidation was required to try and get the innings back on track, Colin de Grandhomme lost his senses and lofted Moeen to long-on. It was poor batting, and highlighted the hole left by Ross Taylor's absence through injury.
The match was almost sealed in the 28th over when Santner flicked a low full toss towards Roy at midwicket, who dived forward but wasn't sure he had taken it cleanly. It went upstairs, with the soft signal of not out, and the replays showed enough doubt for Santner to survive.
From there, Williamson and Santner calmly went about their work, seeing out the spinners, although Santner may have been caught at slip on 10 if one had been placed. Moeen bowled his ten on the bounce and Rashid returned late when Eoin Morgan was hunting for a breakthrough. In the end they needed a touch of fortune from Woakes' fingertips.
England reined in their attacking instincts with the bat and ultimately were rewarded for not having aimed too high, although they could have reached 250. They did not score more than 39 in a 10-over block until the 30-40 segment of the innings. The beginning of the Eoin Morgan-Ben Stokes stand brought 13 runs from 46 balls in a period of rare comatose batting from his team, yet their eventual tally of 71 gave the innings a base.
On the ground where he skittled England with 7 for 33 at the 2015 World Cup, Southee was soon operating with three slips. He swung the ball nicely but this time there were no early scalps for him. Instead, the opening breakthrough went to Boult when Jason Roy edged a lifting delivery, which disturbed the surface, to the lone slip.
Joe Root, as he does so often, timed the ball sweetly from the off and was starting to dominate with back-to-back sweeps off Santner when he tried to club de Grandhomme through the leg side and miscued to mid-on. Jonny Bairstow was then comprehensively defeated by a googly - although more by the drift than the spin - from Ish Sodhi, who had been included ahead of Lockie Ferguson, to leave England 68 for 3 in the 17th over.
De Grandhomme was miserly with his medium-pace dobbers and Williamson would also utilise Munro for eight overs instead of returning to Santner who bowled just two in the innings. The shackles were briefly broken by Morgan when he slog-swept Sodhi for six, but after the 25th over went for 11 the next three brought the same amount and he later clumped Munro down the ground as Stokes continued to battle in a manner rarely seen in any format. Finally, off his 53rd ball, Stokes found the boundary when he sent Boult over the off side.
The partnership was broken on the stroke of drinks when Southee speared one through Morgan's defences then Stokes, eyeing an acceleration at the start of the last 10 overs, picked out long-off against Sodhi, where Munro took a well-judged catch. Stokes' final tally of 39 off 73 balls was very reminiscent of his laboured innings in Cardiff during the Champions Trophy semi-final where he made 34 off 64 balls without a boundary.
Jos Buttler had briefly threatened something special when he took Sodhi for consecutive boundaries then played a wonderful, skimming drive over cover for six but Sodhi struck back with the penultimate ball of his spell when Buttler thin-edged another drive. The last four wickets fell for 19, but in the end England had just enough. Spare a thought for Williamson though.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo