Free Press Journal

Kiwis end losing streak with win over England in tri-series


New Zealand's Kane Williamson bats during the first Twenty20 cricket match between New Zealand and England at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on February 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Marty MELVILLE

Wellington : New Zealand ended their three-match losing streak with a 12-run victory over England in a tri-nations Twenty20 cricket international on Tuesday, inspired by an innings of 72 from captain Kane Williamson.

Williamson posted his eighth T20 half century but his first in 10 innings since January last year to guide New Zealand to 196-5 as they batted first after winning the toss. England were held to 184-9 in reply.

Williamson shared an 82-run second wicket partnership with Martin Guptill (65) which laid the foundation for the innings and with his strike rate of 156.5 — 72 from 65 balls — put an end to rumblings that he might be out of place in the shortest format.

New Zealand won for the first time in three matches after consecutive Twenty20 losses to Pakistan prior to the tri-series, then to Australia in their first match in the trans-Tasman series. England have now lost their last three games after back-to-back losses to Australia who have already qualified for the tri-series final.

New Zealand play Australia in Auckland on Friday.

“Obviously it was a very important win for us in the context of this series,” Williamson said.

“It was in some ways a must win just to get slightly ahead of the third-placed team at the moment which is a very strong England team.

“They made us work really hard, we had to play very good cricket which we were fortunate enough to do today.”

With late support from Mark Chapman (20) and Tim Seifert (14 not out) — both on debut — Williamson ensured New Zealand matched its highest score at the Wellington Regional Stadium and set England a difficult chase on a piebald, drop-in pitch which had confounded both captains.

The pitch, which had a huge bald spot caused by the loss of grass growth during a record hot summer in Wellington, played much better than expected and rewarded bold strokeplay, especially from batsmen who hit under the bounce.

“It was important we assessed the wicket, we didn’t know how it would play and it certainly played a lot better than it looked,” Williamson said.