Ross Taylor’s stunning 181 not out helped New Zealand beat England by five wickets and level the one-day series at 2-2 with a game remaining.
Jonny Bairstow’s 138 and Joe Root’s 102 helped England post 335-9, despite a collapse of 21-6 in Dunedin.
However Taylor, struggling to run with a thigh injury, played superbly to guide the hosts through the chase.
With three runs needed from the final over, Henry Nicholls struck a six to secure an impressive win.
After a strong start with the ball by England’s seamers, Taylor and Tom Latham’s 187-run fourth-wicket partnership brought New Zealand back into the game but almost faltered at the crucial moment.
Latham was finally out for 71 and Colin de Grandhomme fell for a 12-ball 23 but Taylor, despite being in visible pain, struck 13 runs off Chris Woakes in the 47th over to swing things back in New Zealand’s favour.
Taylor could only watch from the non-striker’s end as Nicholls faced two dot balls, before finally clipping a leg-stump half volley over the square leg boundary to ensure victory for New Zealand.
The final ODI takes place in Christchurch on Friday at 22:00 GMT.
Superb Taylor leads victory chase
Just 16 months ago, Taylor was struggling to see the way the ball moved, and underwent surgery to remove a small growth from his left eye in January 2017. Since then, he has averaged 65.50 in one-day cricket, with four centuries and nine half-centuries to his name.
Returning to the side after a quad injury, Taylor had to rebuild New Zealand’s reply. Both openers fell for ducks, with Colin Munro wasting New Zealand’s only review as he was trapped lbw by Mark Wood’s first delivery.
Alongside Williamson, Taylor steadied the innings. The New Zealand captain played carefully while Taylor was more aggressive, hitting Wood for consecutive leg side boundaries, before Williamson edged a tame long hop from Ben Stokes through to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
Taylor continued to accumulate, working his way to a half-century with little fuss, and was helped by Latham, who was handed a reprieve on four when Moeen Ali dropped a simple caught and bowled chance.
Steady scoring helped Taylor reach his 19th ODI century but a reoccurrence of his thigh injury hindered his movement. Unable to run, Taylor freed his arms.
He struck 14 runs from seven deliveries, hitting Stokes for six before thrashing Wood to the cover boundary – he finished with six sixes and 17 fours in his 147-ball knock.
When Latham fell, miscuing Tom Curran to backward point, De Grandhomme picked up the mantle. His first four balls were smashed for 15 runs to leave the Black Caps needing a run a ball from the final six overs.
It was not that simple. De Grandhomme picked out Woakes at backward point and Curran and Woakes used all their variations to keep England in the game. However, Nicholls stood tall to hit his first boundary of the innings and force a deciding match.
Brilliant Bairstow finds roll as batsmen stutter
Bairstow has struggled to establish himself in England’s one-day squad – in 41 matches since making his debut in 2011, he has batted in every position from one to six – but he has been preferred at the top of the order over the past six months, batting 11 times at two since September 2017.
He took a back seat to Jason Roy at the start of the innings but once Roy fell, hitting leg-spinner Ish Sodhi to Mitchell Santner at short leg for 42, Bairstow accelerated. Two towering straight sixes and a late cut were the highlight as he and Root took advantage of an off-colour bowling attack.
Bairstow offered a chance on 74 as he chased a Sodhi delivery but Santner, fielding at cover, couldn’t hold on to a regulation catch. It barely slowed him down as he struck 14 fours and seven sixes on his way to his fastest one-day century, taking his average while batting at two to 53.50.
Root played a quieter role in the 190-run stand with Bairstow but was no less effective, using sweep shots and quick singles to reach his first ODI century in 17 innings. He may have reached three figures quicker had he not struggled for the strike.
Once Bairstow fell, caught in the deep trying to hit Munro for another six, England faltered, losing eight wickets for 46 runs.
Their big hitters fell quickly, giving themselves no time to settle in. Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes were caught attempting big shots, Buttler was caught and bowled by Sodhi and the slow bowler’s flight deceived Moeen as he returned figures of 4-58.
England, having been in a strong position, had scored 50 runs in 11 overs and looked in danger of being bowled out before Curran hit 18 runs from the final six balls. It felt as though England were light on runs – and Taylor proved it in some style.
‘A tough rooster’ – what they said
Ex-England spinner Graeme Swann on BBC Test Match Special: “You’ve got to take your hat off to Ross Taylor. He was superb. But England lost this game. They have to look at themselves and say, ‘how on earth have we chucked that position away?'”
Former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney: “Taylor is a tough rooster, he really is. You don’t sneak a sunrise past him.”
Ex-England batsman James Taylor: “It looked like complacency – almost arrogance – from England, to go hell for leather straight up in your innings. They had a brain fade in the middle overs and that massively cost them in this game.”
England captain Eoin Morgan: “Our skill level wasn’t up to scratch, which is disappointing because we have scored 400 before and if one of us had go ourselves in with Joe Root then we would’ve scored a lot more. But 335 is still a defendable score.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson on Sky Sports: “Ross played his best one-day knock – one of the best one-day knocks we’ve seen. Ross’ knock was just sensational. He has been batting like this all year.
“We needed him to be out there. He had a few niggles. It was an outstanding partnership with him and Tom Latham.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/43311878