Brilliant half-centuries by Hamish Rutherford and Brendon McCullum set New Zealand on its way to a five-run victory over England in the first of two Twenty20 internationals at The Oval here . Rutherford (62 off 35 balls) and McCullum (68) put on a second-wicket stand of 114 to help the Kiwis post 201-4,a record T20 score against England,under the floodlights in south London on Tuesday night.
The hosts,looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to India in the Champions Trophy final on Sunday,got off to a flyer in the chase and Luke Wright weighed in with 52 to leave them requiring 16 runs off the last over. Ben Stokes smashed a six off the first ball but he and Ravi Bopara (30 not out) couldnt find the boundary off the next five and New Zealand squeezed home.
There was a lot of pressure towards the end and a lot of young lads came out of it really well, McCullum said. Its small margins but its great to come out of it on the winning side.
Fifteen sixes were hit in an entertaining game but England couldnt find the big hits when it mattered in the final over. We were only two blows away from winning the game, England captain Eoin Morgan said. Its not as frustrating as against India. That was an opportunity missed but this was a great effort and we can take a lot of positives.
All eyes on KPs return
Meanwhile,stand-in skipper Eoin Morgan is backing Kevin Pietersen to help turn around his sides fortunes in the second Twenty20 international against New Zealand. Two days after losing the Champions Trophy final to India,England fell short against New Zealand.
Pietersen is expected to return to the England team for the first time since March,when he was forced out of the tour of New Zealand with a knee injury. He returned to the crease for Surrey on Sunday,hitting an unbeaten 177 against Yorkshire in the Country Championship,and is expected to be available for the second Twenty20 match on Thursday,also at the Oval.
Kevin is a huge part of English cricket and has been for a long time, Morgan,captain in place of the rested Stuart Broad,told the England and Wales Cricket Board website. What he brings to the table,probably very few people at the world can. He can take the game away from you at any stage and we saw during the week the way he performed.
He takes a lot of pride in when he goes out there and bats. He looks in good form. Its a very relaxed environment that we have going on at the moment and hopefully hell come in and do well.
Pietersens return will also give England a boost ahead of the Ashes series against Australia,starting at Trent Bridge on July 10. Australia,who sacked their coach Mickey Arthur on Monday and failed to reach the Champions Trophy semi-finals,start the first of two tour matches against Somerset on Wednesday.
Brief scores: New Zealand 201/4 (H Rutherford 62,B McCullum 68,R Taylor 32 n.o,T Latham 22; Wright 2/31 bt England 196/5 (A Hales 39,M Lumb 29,L Wright 52,R Bopara 30 n.o.; McClenaghan 1/37,Butler 1/35).