A superb century from New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was not enough to prevent a tight four-run defeat at the hands of England – in Saturday’s key third ODI at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
Williamson welcomed an 11th century and 5000 runs in the intermediate format of the international game en route to a commanding 112 not out from 143 deliveries, six fours and two sixes included, but it was not enough.
Requiring 15 runs off the final over, the Black Caps only managed 10, as seamer Chris Woakes held his nerve entirely.
Williamson enjoyed the support of opener Colin Munro’s 49 and all-rounder Mitchell Santner’s 41, but a middle-order minus the services of the injured Ross Taylor otherwise under-delivered.
Spinner Moeen Ali was, statistically, the visiting side’s best bowler. He relished plenty of turn and bounce to collect three important wickets – and the Player of the Match accolade.
Earlier, captain Eoin Morgan top-scored in England’s final total of 234 all out in exactly 50 overs.
Each of the visiting team’s top nine batsman reached double figures, but a severe lack of conversion saw not one reach a half-century.
Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, preferred to fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers. He exploited conditions well, completing solid figures of three for 53. His contribution included the important dismissals of opener Johnny Bairstow and all-rounder Ben Stokes.
The result saw the English take a vital two-one lead in the five-match series. The fourth ODI will be played at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday and the fifth at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday. Two Tests will follow, the first of which will start at Eden Park in Auckland on 22 March.