New Zealand 181 for 7 (Green 70*, Brunt 4-22) beat England 178 (Brunt 49*, Tahuhu 5-37) by three wickets

Lea Tahuhu's five-wicket haul set up victory and Maddy Green's unbeaten half-century brought it home as New Zealand kept their ODI series with England alive in Leicester.

England again struggled with the bat, bowled out for 178 with nine balls remaining in the face of Tahuhu's 5 for 37 as New Zealand sealed victory by three wickets with 25 balls to spare in only their second win in 18 ODIs going back to February 2019.

Despite the efforts of returning allrounder Katherine Brunt - rested for the second match - in top-scoring for England and taking 4 for 22 from her 10 overs, the hosts couldn't finish off New Zealand, who now trail 1-2 with two matches to play.

Having endured a troubling lead-in, with New Zealand the subject of a security threat on match eve and England having their historic first tour of Pakistan cancelled, both captains said at the toss that they were keen to focus on this game.

Putting England in for the third time in as many matches this series, New Zealand showed yet more of the spirit that has driven them through much of the tour, when they have put themselves in position to challenge England. On this occasion, they broke the mould with Green holding her nerve to produce a crucial 70 not out and Tahuhu hitting the winning runs.

England too have fallen into a pattern, centred on some below-par batting, and they failed to see out their fifty overs for a third straight time in this ODI series.

Following her valuable 43 and four maidens on the trot which put a lid on New Zealand's run-chase before it could begin in Bristol, Brunt played an important role again with the bat in Leicester and then stymied what should have been an easy pursuit for the White Ferns.

Tahuhu, who only returned to international action last week after a skin cancer scare that led to foot surgery over the New Zealand winter, had torn through England's top order with four wickets in as many overs to end her opening spell with 4 for 20 from six.

That England managed to take their innings into the 49th over was a credit to Brunt, who ended up stranded on 49 not out, and tailenders Kate Cross and Tash Farrant, who helped lift their side from a dire 78 for 7.

Tahuhu trapped openers Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill lbw and when she had captain Heather Knight caught behind fishing outside off-stump, England were 20 for 3.

The situation worsened for the home side in Tahuhu's next over when she bowled Sophia Dunkley between bat and pad, hitting middle stump to send England to 27 for 4.

Molly Penfold, on debut, produced a similarly fine delivery to bowl Amy Jones for her maiden international wicket.

Called into the squad when Rosemary Mair pulled out because of a shin injury, Penfold then backed up with the important wicket of Danni Wyatt. There was to be no reprise of Wyatt's match-saving 63 not out after England had suffered another collapse in the second match in Worcester when she struck Penfold to point, where Lauren Down took a spectacular catch diving forward and clinging on with her fingertips just above the ground.

Tahuhu returned to the attack in the 21st over and struck eight balls later to seal her five-wicket haul when Charlie Dean played on to be out for 10 and put England at 78 for 7 in the 23rd.

Brunt and Cross put on a 53-run partnership for the ninth wicket, Cross scoring an international career-best of 29 as England's second-highest scorer before she was run out by a deflection off bowler Leigh Kasperek's hand.

Her dismissal brought in Tash Farrant, who had shared a 51-run stand with Wyatt in the previous match, and she added 24 with Brunt before she was last out, lbw to Hayley Jensen, having lifted England.

Denied a wicket off the first ball of the reply when Suzie Bates strode a long way down the pitch and survived an lbw review on umpire's call, a fired-up Brunt removed Bates and Lauren Down cheaply to leave New Zealand at 13 for 2.

After 10 overs, the White Ferns were 35 for 2 compared to England's 32 for 4 and when Amy Satterthwaite combined with Green for a 72-run stand, they looked to be back on course.

But then Dean had Satterthwaite caught by Sophie Ecclestone at mid-off for 33 and Brunt returned to bowl Sophie Devine for just 3, claiming her 300th international wicket in the process.

Green and Brooke Halliday shared a half-century stand to steady the innings once more before Farrant removed the latter, bowled for 25, at which point New Zealand needed 33 off 12.3 overs.

Ecclestone then bowled Katey Martin through the gate and, at six down, it looked like wickets in hand could again become an issue for the visitors, as it has throughout the series. They suffered a nervous moment when Hayley Jensen failed to overturn an lbw decision off Brunt, replays inconclusive as to whether the bat hit pad or bat first and the on-field decision was upheld.

Needing 21 off 46, Tahuhu broke the tension with a lofted four down the ground off Cross and she fittingly struck the winning runs with a powerful six down the ground off Farrant.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo