New Zealand 192 for 6 (B McCullum 74, Guptill 47, Rutherford 40) beat England 137 (J Buttler 54, Franklin 4-15) by 55 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
England have never successfully chased a target of such magnitude to win a Twenty20 international and they certainly did not chase this one. They foundered from the start under the lights at Seddon Park, enabling New Zealand to inflict a 55-run trouncing. After all the talk of small boundaries, for England they seemed to be expanding by the moment.
The ICC rankings system certainly knows how to lose faith with a side after a bad night's cricket. England, third at the start of the night, were sixth by the end of it. T20 is a volatile business. The series will be settled in Wellington on Friday.
Brendon McCullum had carried the fight for New Zealand, striking 74 from 38 balls and manfully thrusting a daunting total into English faces after they had gained control in mid-innings. England conceded 38 off the last two overs, Stuart Broad and Jade Dernbach the bowlers to suffer, and even though Dernbach silenced McCullum's belligerence at deep cover on the penultimate ball of the innings, England had nothing to show for some tigerish fielding.
Just as striking was the degree to which New Zealand's fast bowlers outdid their England counterparts. They found movement under the lights never imagined by England earlier in the innings as they preferred the back-of-a-length approach that had served them so well in the opening T20I in Auckland.
England, victors in the opening T20I in Auckland when they batted first and made their highest total in this format, opted to chase when Stuart Broad won the toss on a dry, lightly cloudy evening in Hamilton. "Probably should have batted first," Broad accepted.
Ian Butler stood out with an impeccable spell of 2 for 9 in four overs as England's innings never found any impetus. Butler has had some discouraging times in a career and almost abandoned New Zealand cricket to play county cricket in England but he has had a good season with Otago Volts and this was a night that told of a bowler with appetite restored. James Franklin bowled well, but his four-for largely fell upon him.
England never recovered from losing three wickets for 24 by the fifth over. Alex Hales was bowled by Mitchell McClenaghan as he tried to work to leg, Luke Wright edged his sighter to gully, and Jonny Bairstow, cramped as he pulled Butler, got it no further than short-fine leg. When Michael Lumb was bowled off his pads, charging Nathan McCullum's off spin, England limped to the mid-point at 47 for 4.
It all left Morgan facing circumstances that he did not naturally relish, a batsman with too much time on his hands. Morgan likes games to be set up for him, but this one felt more like a set up favoured in American gangster movies.
It is not often that Morgan seems overpowered by a situation, but it was the case here. He reached 13 from 22 before he fell to Butler. He needed good fortune to get that far, surviving a stumping chance - a McCullum brotherly combination that went amiss - and was badly dropped off Butler at deep midwicket when Hamish Rutherford battered one to the floor off his chest.
By the time Samit Patel was run out by yards, failing to negotiate a single to Trent Boult who hit direct from mid off, England's innings had entered the realms of black comedy. The only consolation came from Jos Buttler's maiden T20I fifty. Buttler has been favoured with the gloves ahead of Bairstow as a statement that England wish to keep him in the side. His reputation is built on short, explosive innings, and his 54 from 30 balls in a hopeless task did him no harm.
After the somewhat unnatural six-hitting extravaganza in Eden Park, Seddon Park had a more satisfying cricketing feel. It is another compact ground, with straight boundaries around 65m, but a few extra metres and a more logical shape provided a more gratifying setting for another packed house. Even so, after England gave the first over to the offspinner, James Tredwell, it took all of four balls before Martin Guptill smashed him for six into the sightscreen. There were ten sixes in all for New Zealand, five of them to McCullum, their jaw-jutting captain. England, so supreme in Auckland, managed two in reply.
Finn had placed a marker a few paces from the stumps in an effort to control his occasional habit of colliding with them. Stay left of that, and you will be okay, seemed to be the message. His thoughts soon strayed elsewhere as Rutherford hauled him into the sponsors' area and almost felled a couple of stilt walkers.
New Zealand rattled along at around ten an over from the outset. Jade Dernbach was wearing a strapping on his heavily-tattooed left arm after being accidentally spiked in practice, presumably denying onlookers the chance to read several ancient Tibetan dictums.
Wright, who looks too perky to sit down in a tattoo parlour, came up trumps for the second successive match, his medium pace bringing 2 for 24 to follow his 2 for 29 in Auckland. He arrested an opening stand of 75 in 8.2 overs when Rutherford tried to fiddle one to third man and was caught at the wicket. There was the wicket of Ross Taylor, too, who hauled him to Bairstow at deep midwicket. Acclaimed as the returning hero since ending his self-imposed exile, Taylor has so far amassed more ovations than runs.
When Dernbach's slower balls began to make an impact - Colin Munro hauling to Bairstow at deep midwicket and Grant Elliott having his bails trimmed by a back-of-the-hand delivery, the judder in New Zealand's innings had become pronounced. But it was nothing like the judder England were about to experience.
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo