Martin Guptill's Test career hangs in the balance but his one-day standing was given a huge lift as he produced a match-winning hundred to earn New Zealand their third win in three one-day internationals at Lord's. The last time Guptill faced England in an ODI he was also the hero - batting virtually on one leg in Hamilton - and he again looked free from the tentativeness that characterises his longer-form batting.
Guptill's eighth boundary, a pull off Tim Bresnan, took him to his third ODI hundred - just and secured the victory for New Zealand with 19 balls to spare. He is just the second New Zealander to make an ODI hundred in England after Mark Greatbach who did it twice in three days in 1990. Guptill also struck four sixes - the best a straight drive over long-on - but almost came up short of his ton when, with five needed, Jos Buttler let the ball through his legs for four byes the delivery after England reviewed for an lbw. Then, though, Bresnan dropped short, Guptill latched on and raised his arms in triumph.
What made the victory more impressive was that after five balls of the chase New Zealand were 1 for 2 following James Anderson's two sharp outswingers to remove Luke Ronchi and Kane Williamson. That type of start could easily have reopened wounds from the Test match here two weeks ago, when they crumbled to 68 all out chasing 239, but this time the response was a world away from that timid display, with Guptill and Ross Taylor adding the defining stand of the match worth 120 in 24 overs.
The batting of Guptill and Taylor proved that England's earlier difficulties as they lurched to 227 for 9 were largely self-inflicted. They were kept under wraps by losing wickets in batches through poor shot selection, with four of the batsmen falling between 30 and 36, and then an attack lacking Stuart Broad (knee) and Steven Finn (shin) could not support the outstanding Anderson.
Jade Dernbach, a late addition to the squad, initially as cover from Bresnan, went for two boundaries in his first over and, although his third was a maiden, he frequently dropped short in his opening spell. Chris Woakes was especially unimpressive, conceding 45 in six overs, although things might have been different for him had Bresnan managed to get underneath Guptill's top-edged hook at fine leg. Instead, Bresnan was in from the boundary and could only palm the ball for six as he ran backwards.
It had been Taylor who first steadied New Zealand's nerves. He was quickly into double figures with three boundaries, latching on to width from Dernbach and the occasional overpitched delivery from Anderson. He also took a brace of boundaries off Woakes during a 71-ball half-century and it required Bresnan and Graeme Swann to bring some control, although New Zealand knew they did not have to force the pace.
It was Anderson, though, who gave England a lift when he returned to produce another exacting delivery to have Taylor caught behind but the batsmen had done enough to break the back of the chase. Grant Elliott, reprieved on 13 when he was given lbw to a Dernbach slower-ball yorker despite edging it, was rarely fluent but helped Guptill add 47 before Swann bowled him through the gate.
Brendon McCullum's dismissal, carving to deep cover, was lazy given the lack of pressure from run rate, but there was no unravelling from New Zealand with Guptill easing them across the line.
Both captains had wanted to bowl first on a cloudy morning; it was McCullum who got his wish. England, though, had appeared to have laid a decent foundation before the openers departed in consecutive overs from Tim Southee and then the middle order lost 3 for 9 in 17 balls after Jonathan Trott and Joe Root had set the base with a stand of 67. Nathan McCullum, who conceded just one boundary in his 10 overs, started the slide when Root was bowled reverse sweeping, a manner of dismissal later repeated by Buttler as any attempt to lift the scoring was stymied.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering his success here in the Test when he claimed ten wickets, Southee was not given the new ball but soon had an impact when brought on as first change from the Pavilion End - where he did most of the damage with the red ball. In the 11th over - Southee's third - Bell drove without sufficient footwork and gave wicketkeeper Ronchi his first catch as a New Zealand international.
In his next over, Southee struck again when Alastair Cook, like Bell, drove away from his body - much to the captain's frustration after he had been forced to fight hard against Mitchell McClenaghan's opening spell when the left-armer, who has not played since the one-day series in New Zealand, beat him four times in succession. Southee completed consecutive wicket maidens and ended his first spell with figure of 5-2-12-2.
Just when the work of Trott and Root appeared to have overcome those losses, the innings started to fall away. Root, who had been sparky at the crease, exposed his stumps with the reverse sweep against McCullum and then Trott, shaping to be the anchor for the innings as he so often is, picked out deep midwicket.
Eoin Morgan and Buttler, who are viewed as vital in the last 10 overs, therefore had twice that time to build their innings but neither found fluency. For Morgan it was just his second innings since returning from the IPL - his first was a golden duck against Yorkshire in the YB40 - and after a sweetly struck straight drive to get off the mark he put himself in a tangle against McClenaghan. The bowler noticed him advancing down the pitch, banged the ball in short and Morgan's attempt to abort his pull only resorted in a healthy top edge to the wicketkeeper. When Buttler fell in the Powerplay, England's last hope of a powerful finish went with him.