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Adaptation the key in record New Zealand win over England

New Zealand had to play the conditions on memory but their handling of a difficult pitch to beat England by 155 runs in the National Bank Series One-Day International on WestpacTrust Stadium in Wellington tonight was a clinical lesson in adaptability.

Recent efforts by administrators and groundsmen in New Zealand have made these sorts of pitches a thing of the past, and it was only because of watering, to eliminate the scars of last weekend's IRB Rugby Sevens at the same venue, being followed by two and a half days of torrential rain, that this pitch slipped through the net.

It wasn't a pretty sight, nor was it a comfortable ride for batsmen unprepared to play themselves in, adapt to the pace, and to recognise that boundary hitting was always going to be a luxury on such a slow outfield.

That New Zealand appreciated this was obvious from their score of 244/8 - in that score there were only 14 fours and three sixes. Or 74 runs out of 244. That left an awful lot of running to be done by batsmen using placement and timing to gain maximum utility from the ground.

England failed to bowl either the right length or line consistently enough to pressure New Zealand. When confronted by those requirements being met by New Zealand's bowlers, their batsmen couldn't cope.

New Zealand have been looking to develop their batting along these lines and recognition of what was required under the circumstances was a hint of greater consistency emerging.

Some facts:

England were dismissed for 89 in 37.2 overs.

The 155-run loss was the third highest they have suffered. The worst remains defeat by the West Indies by 165 runs at Kingstown in 1993/94 and by 162 runs in Melbourne against Australia in 1998/99.

It was the lowest total they have scored against New Zealand. The previous worst was at Lancaster Park in 1982/83 when they scored 127. Their all-time lowest score is 86 against Australia at Manchester last year.

In that same series they suffered their worst margin of defeat by New Zealand by 103 runs at the Basin Reserve.

From a New Zealand perspective, the win was its second highest winning margin against Test-playing nations. The highest remains a victory by 206 runs against Australia in Adelaide in 1985/86. (A big win against East Africa was recorded at a World Cup and Bangladesh were beaten in Sharjah).

New Zealand have now won four games in a row against England and been unbeaten in five (after the tie at Napier in 1996/97).

In plain words, this was a rout.

England bowled badly, fielded and caught worse, and their batting disintegrated.

On a pitch of which the New Zealanders were given first use by Nasser Hussain, New Zealand batted by accumulation to achieve domination.

There were long periods without boundaries, but the score kept ticking over and once the batsmen were established they were better equipped to hit out.

Chris Nevin continued to give an edge to the opening and while the opening stand was only worth 25 when Nathan Astle departed, it was still the second best start of New Zealand's ODI summer.

Nevin scored 21 off 20 balls before he was out. Then after impatience got the better of Brendon McCullum, Stephen Fleming and Craig McMillan worked well to see the side through a potentially difficult patch while 58 were added for the fourth wicket.

The disappointment was that Fleming, having scored 40 got out cheaply again when he was handling the situation so well. One six he hit off Craig White over the mid-wicket boundary was a beautifully fluid shot. Two straight drives were examples of Fleming at his best, but they were of the quality side of his game that, unfortunately, he is not showing as often as New Zealanders would like to see.

McMillan then joined up with Lou Vincent, a not insignificant liaison in terms of New Zealand's prospective ODI batting order, to add 84 off 97 balls before the stand ended in the 43rd over.

The artisans had finished their job, now it was time for the demolition squad and while they struggled with the pace of the pitch, they did add 46 runs in the last six overs. Chris Cairns 11 off six, Chris Harris 14 off 19 and Andre Adams 25 off 18.

Darren Gough is clearly the most combative bowler in the side but his three wickets cost 47 runs. White bowled a tidy first spell of five overs for 19 runs, figures only marred when 12 come off the fifth.

Then when New Zealand came out to bowl it was as if the runs had dried out of the pitch in the tea break.

Daryl Tuffey's first two overs were maidens while Adams conceded a single off his first ball and then had Marcus Trescothick caught by wicket-keeper Nevin.

Adams maintained some sterling pressure and in the process helped himself to a more permanent place in the New Zealand side. He generates good pace and bowled with great accuracy to take three for 13 from seven overs.

Fleming decided that was enough and put him out of sight of prying English eyes but, one suspects, not out of their thoughts.

Hussain departed to a bad shot which saw Fleming complete a good catch for a Tuffey wicket while Nick Knight was bowled by Adams for nine. When Graham Thorpe departed, leg before wicket to Adams for 10, it was effectively the end of the England cause.

Andrew Flintoff provided some final resistance to score 26 and Ashley Giles hit 12 but the final destroyer proved to be Astle who took three for four to polish off the innings.