England got their T20 series against New Zealand off to a positive start, winning the opening match by 40 runs in Auckland thanks to a small ground, some positive hitting and good bowling by the seamers.
The England batsmen hit 15 sixes and 16 fours in their 20 overs to reach 214 for seven, most of which were little more than pushes and flicks, which meant needed to bowl well to defend the score, their highest in the format.
Stuart Broad was the pick of the bowlers, taking four wickets and leading from the front in the field as the Black Caps reached 174 for nine in their 20 overs, Martin Guptill top-scoring with 44. Steve Finn took three of the remaining wickets.
England got off to a fast start, with Alex Hales doing the bulk of the scoring and making 13 in one over, but the young opener could not carry it through and was stumped for 21 in the fourth over off Ronnie Hira.
The size of the ground became increasingly evident as they raced to 62 off just six overs. Hira was struck for two sixes in one over when on a regular ground they would have gone to extra cover on the bounce.
Luke Wright, who raced into the 30s at a strike rate over 200, was dropped by the returned Ross Taylor in the seventh over, though it was a tough chance and the former skipper had to dive full stretch just to get a hand on it. Astonishingly, he then dropped another one the next over, after Wright skied it high into the air.
Luckily for Taylor, Hira did a better job of holding on with the score on 89, as Wright flat-batted it to the spinner off Andrew Ellis. His score was on 42 off 20 balls, and bit more elevation would have given him another six.
Opener Michael Lumb, who had quietly made his way to 22, was the next to fall. He lofted it to debutant Hamish Rutherford at short fine leg, handing Mitchell McClenaghan a scalp with the score on 91.
The score continued to race towards 200, and Hira dropped the Black Caps' third catch of the night in the 12th over. Jonny Bairstow pulled Ellis, and Hira couldn't hold onto the dipping ball, the score on 133.
A fourth dropped catch went down in the 15th over, in a very odd manner. Eoin Morgan hit the ball pretty much straight to McClenaghan, but the fielder didn't appear to pick it up and grabbed at it once the ball had already gone past him.
The resulting four took Morgan to 43, but he was only able to add three more to that before being dismissed. He sliced a Hira delivery to cover where Taylor took the catch, and he laughed with relief at the fact.
Bairstow had smashed a quick fire 38 off 22 balls before being dismissed by Trent Boult in the 18th over. He swatted it to Martin Guptill on the mid wicket ropes, leaving Jos Buttler and Samit Patel in the middle. But Patel made only two before falling to Ellis.
The flurry of wickets continued even though the score passed 200, as Broad departed for three in the final over. Buttler made sure of a good score though, hitting another six and a four to end the knock.
The Black Caps chase stared well in term of run rate, going at around 10 to the over, but they lost two crucial wickets early on Rutherford, making 18 on debut, was caught by Tredwell off Broad, before Brendon McCullum departed for 10.
This brought Taylor to the middle, his side needing a big knock from him upon his return, and hoping his batting wasn't as rusty as his fielding. After the Power Play six over, the Black Caps were on 54 for two.
Their third wicket fell with the score on 77 as the run rate climbed, with Taylor unable to exact revenge upon his critics. He was caught on the boundary by Bairstow for 13, as Guptill continued at the other end on 30.
Guptill made 44 before departing with the score on Nelson, leaving the Black Caps' hopes out of reach unless a miracle could be performed by James Franklin and Colin Munro. They only had seven overs left though, and the required rate was 15.
Franklin could not replicate his recent big-hitting and departed for eight, caught behind by Buttler off Broad at the start of the 15th over. At that stage, the Kiwis needed 88 from 35 deliveries.
Broad struck again in the same over as Munro swung, missed, and found his bails in the air. Nathan McCullum and Ellis departed soon after and The Black Caps' chase was effectively over at 135 for eight.
Broad took his fourth wicket, truly cementing his return to form, when he got rid of Boult in the 19th over. Patel took the catch at extra cover, and while the Kiwis scored 15 runs in the final over, they fell well short.
New Zealand: 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Colin Munro, 6 James Franklin, 7 Andrew Ellis, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Ronnie Hira, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
England: 1 Alex Hales, 2 Michael Lumb, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 James Tredwell, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Jade Dernbach