Paul Collingwood hit a quickfire half-century to guide England to a six-wicket victory over New Zealand and keep the outcome of the five-match series alive.
Captain Paul Collingwood hit a quickfire half-century to guide England to a rousing six-wicket victory over New Zealand and keep the outcome of the five-match series alive.
Humiliated in the opening two matches in the series, Collingwood typified England's determination not to lose the series in successive matches and delivered a defiant performance at Eden Park.
Chasing a revised target of 228 in 47 overs after New Zealand posted a competitive 234 for nine, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen helped the tourists recover from losing both openers with a 120-run stand.
But after Bell scored a determined 73 off 89 balls, his first one-day half-century in 12 innings, both he and Pietersen fell to New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori in successive overs to once again put the outcome in doubt.
Collingwood arrived at the crease, however, and raced to an unbeaten 70 off 50 balls, which included six fours and three sixes, to help England claim their first win of the series with three overs remaining.
Phil Mustard had run himself out in the third over of England's reply – the seventh run out of the series for the tourists – and Alastair Cook pulled Jacob Oram straight to mid-on shortly after the restart after the rain.
England could have suffered a further run out with Bell (on 22 and 52) twice being given reprieves after throws missed the stumps with him well short of his ground.
He weathered those nervous moments, however, and looked set for his first one-day international century in 15 matches, only to be adjudged lbw to left-arm spinner Vettori despite television replays suggesting he got an inside edge onto his pad.
Pietersen followed in Vettori's next over, but this time there was no cause for complaint over the decision, leaving England once again jittery until Collingwood settled their nerves during an unbroken partnership with Owais Shah.
The tourists had earlier allowed New Zealand to recover from 95 for six to post a competitive 234 for nine after important innings from all-rounder Jacob Oram and Vettori.
The pair shared a crucial 74-run stand off 72 balls and helped add a crucial 81 runs off the final 10 overs after their top order had been decimated by England's new ball attack.
England had made two changes to their line-up in a desperate attempt to change their fortunes with Ravi Bopara and spinner Graeme Swann both being dropped and replaced by all-rounders Luke Wright and Dimitri Mascarenhas.
The changes were successful initially with Lancashire seamer Jimmy Anderson striking with the 10th legitimate ball of the innings to remove dangerous wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum and shared the first four wickets to fall with the impressive Stuart Broad.
With Paul Collingwood also claiming two wickets to remove Peter Fulton and Ross Taylor, England seemed in the dominant position and also had luck on their side with umpire Asad Rauf ruling an Oram drive for four as a dead ball because he was not in position at the bowler's end.
Three balls later Taylor fell to an lbw appeal and New Zealand could have lost their composure at the injustice of the situation, but instead relied on the wise heads of Oram and Vettori to steer them towards a competitive score.
Their stand was all the more galling for England, who had missed Vettori before he had scored with Anderson missing a one-handed catch at mid-on off Collingwood.
Vettori went on to hit four fours and a six off in his 42 off 35 balls before being superbly caught by Owais Shah on the mid-wicket boundary attempting to hit Collingwood for successive fours with eight overs remaining.
Oram was in sight of only his second one-day international century and moved closer to it by hitting Broad for successive sixes in his final over.
But, attempting to clear the cover boundary off a full toss from Ryan Sidebottom, Oram mis-timed his shot and was superbly caught by a diving Ian Bell having hit four fours and four sixes in his brilliant 88 off 91 balls.
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