Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor hit hundreds for New Zealand, and featured in a third wicket partnership of 206 as the Kiwis chased down a target of 303 set by England earlier in the day. New Zealand lost a few wickets to towards the end of the day, but managed to secure victory by three wickets, and with it, a 2-1 lead as well. Taylor completed his third instance of scoring hundreds in consecutive ODIs. England, on the other hand, collapsed from 288 for 5 to 302 all out losing their last five wickets for merely 14 runs.
The partnership between Williamson and Taylor was undoubtedly the defining one of the match. Williamson batted with the serenity of a monk, never looking in any sort of hurry. There was no need to. After all, in this age of power plays, chasing down 300 is rather easy if you keep wickets in hand. Williamson followed the same policy to guide his side. He was ably supported by Taylor who, fresh from his hundred in the previous match, continued to excel. By the time the pair was separated, New Zealand needed 61 from 67 balls. And, though they lost a few wickets, victory was always within sight.
Apart from the batting collapse, England also suffered because of their poor bowling effort as they dropped as many as four catches in the field. In fact, Taylor was dropped twice in consecutive overs of Mark Wood. On 67, Jos Buttler spilled a catch going one handed to his right, and on 72, Ben Stokes put down a pull from the batsman at square leg. Had one of those catches been held, England could have put the Kiwis under greater pressure. England were also to drop Williamson, but this was after he had crossed the 100 mark. Wood put him down at mid-off, as the batsman drove David Willey.
Earlier, Stokes and skipper Eoin Morgan combined to put the visitors in a position of strength. Stokes blasted his way to 68 in quick time using his brute force. The New Zealand bowlers were completely at his mercy as Stokes went on his hitting spree. He was eventually bowled for an adventurous 68 as he stepped away and tried to hit Ben Wheeler out of the ground. Skipper Morgan, who was out of sorts in the World Cup, has looked more at home in the new English set up. His 71 was further proof of his assuredness. With Root also getting a fifty, England found themselves in a dominant position of 288 for 5.
The match completely turned around as England collapsed towards the end. 14 runs for five wickets was too few. After Sam Billings fell for 34, Adil Rashid was dismissed first ball. Willey also went back attempting a mighty heavy. England were trying to take their aggression to another level, and it wasn't working. The Kiwi bowlers fought back as both Southee and debutant Wheeler claimed three wickets each. Williamson's golden arm also came into action as he dismissed the well set Morgan. The tide was turning, and Williamson, along with Taylor, ensured it was in Kiwis favour.
--By A Cricket Correspondent