Fine figures from fast bowler Steven Finn and complementary contributions from batsmen Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root afforded England a comfortable five-wicket win – and two-one ODI series triumph over New Zealand – in Saturday's decider at Eden Park in Auckland.
Fine figures from fast bowler Steven Finn and complementary contributions from batsmen Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Eoin Morgan and Joe Root afforded England a comfortable five-wicket win – and two-one ODI series – triumph over New Zealand.
Finn was the driving force as the tourists bowled their hosts out for 185, and Saturday's decider at Eden Park in Auckland turned into a mis-match.
Even Brendon McCullum's third successive half-century was unable to rescue a defendable total for New Zealand, albeit on a pitch which had offered plenty early on to well directed seam bowling after Cook had won the toss.
England's two premier exponents, Finn and James Anderson, soon reduced the hosts to a hapless 11 for three.
McCullum (79) refused to let England have it all their own way with six fours and five sixes but, without significant support, could not turn the tide on his own.
It seemed a foregone conclusion that England would make light work of their target.
In the event they were not flattered by a five-wicket margin, and it was more instructive that they also had 12.3 overs to spare.
Finn's first of three wickets for 27 was his 50th in ODI cricket, and for good measure Graeme Swann was later to take his 100th – only the eighth Englishman to do so in this format.
Finn began England's dominance by beating BJ Watling twice in three balls in his first over, with bounce and away movement.
With a third similarly testing delivery, he got his first reward – taking the shoulder of a defensive bat for a neat catch by Swann at second slip.
Then after a Finn maiden to Hamish Rutherford, Anderson struck with a length ball which held its line and had Kane Williamson edging behind on the back-foot defence.
Rutherford, in particular, was enduring an unequal struggle.
He managed just two runs from 19 balls, eventually falling to Finn – who allowed him a little width for the first time but, rather than being punished, had the left-handed opener edging to the wicketkeeper as he tried to seize on a rare scoring opportunity.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott dug in to attempt a recovery. But after a hard-working stand of 53 in 15 overs, their industry was squandered via a mix-up over a second run which left Elliott sent back and stranded mid-pitch.
When Taylor then became the third caught-behind departure of the innings – umpire Chris Gaffaney's decision upheld after a DRS process which could not disprove it – it was hard to envisage how New Zealand might reach a competitive total.
McCullum would still have his say, though, and in the 32nd over hit the the first six of the innings – up the wicket to Swann, over long-on.
Another feasible partner came and went, James Franklin poking a catch back to a diving Swann off the back foot to bring up the off-spinner's ODI century; then McCullum's brother Nathan edged the returning Finn to slip at the start of the batting powerplay.
Finn had figures of 8-3-10-3 at that stage.
McCullum punctured his pride by clubbing him for two pulled fours and a six over long-off in successive balls in a ninth over which cost 17, and New Zealand's lynchpin continued his one-man counter-attack too.
His lone hand was forced, though, and he was last out in only the 44th over when he tried to pull another maximum off Swann but was well held just inside the deep midwicket boundary by Anderson. England's batsmen were never likely to be taken England out of a comfort zone with such a modest chase, and openers Cook and Ian Bell were soon making a mockery of their opposite numbers' troubles.
Bell mis-pulled first-change Andrew Ellis to be caught at deep midwicket; there was a minor wobble when Trott and then Cook both went caught-behind to loose shots in successive overs from Tim Southee (three for 49) with more than 70 still needed, and two late wickets made for a slightly misleading scorecard.
But Morgan dominated his and Root's 56-run stand to help settle the issue with the sun barely set on this scheduled day-night fixture.
For New Zealand, it was a chastening outcome to the limited-overs leg of their summer – the part in which many gave them the best hope of lowering England's colours.
The tourists' white-ball specialists have concluded their winter programme favourably, following last month's respectable three-two defeat in India, and those who stay on for the forthcoming three-Test series will therefore do so in good heart.