New Zealand struck first blood with a three-wicket win in the first one-day international against England in Hamilton.
The match went one way then the other as the Black caps chased down 259 in crushing style via Brendon McCullum’s brutal hitting in the latter overs.
However the return of Martin Guptill proved vital. The opener turned the course of the match supporting skipper McCullum to take New Zealand home with seven balls remaining.
Earlier Jonathon Trott and Ian Bell both scored half-centuries for England but their innings never really caught fire and the final total was only par on the strong batting surface in Hamilton.
The returning ODI opening pair of Alaistair Cook and Bell started the innings for the three lions, Cook didn’t last long after hitting a superb cover drive for four he was on his way as Mitchell McClenaghan (4-56) struck bowling him out through his defence.
Trott (68) and Bell (64) took over the rebuilding process, laying the foundations for a competitive score with a stand of 84. Bell was adventurous, always attempting to loft over the infield. He had a let-off mistiming a slog sweep and was dropped by BJ Watling.
The opener reached his 50 from 67 balls with a chipped a shot off Andrew Ellis for a straight six. Bell soon edged James Franklin behind when he looked for runs in the off-side.
Trott picked up his strike-rate when Joe Root joined him in the middle playing big shots; he was bowled when making room for slog during the batting powerplay leaving England on 184-3 at the end of the 39th over.
Eoin Morgan came and went following Trott back to the pavilion spearing a low catch to Guptill at point; Root continued his hard work and became England’s quickest fifty maker bringing it up from 58 deliveries. Despite only facing 13 balls Jos Butler hammered a few sixes crashing McClenaghan over long-on and toe-ended a full toss over extra cover.
Root was bowled attempting a slog off Franklin (3-38) at 222-6, Chris Woakes and Graeme Swann rescued the innings giving England a total of 68 runs in the last 10 overs.
The Black caps chase began with difficulty as in the first over James Anderson had BJ Watling cleaned up with an inswinging yorker and became England’s most successful international bowler in all formats. Guptill was retired hurt in the next over with complaint of a hamstring strain, leaving New Zealand in bother at 18-1.
Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor dug in taking the score to 75 before Woakes (2-52) had Taylor caught by Steve Finn at square. Williamson played a patient innings and Grant Elliot supported him as the pair put together with a 50 run stand moving onto 129 inside 30 overs.
An anchoring 74 from 99 balls came to an end for Williamson, confusion with McCullum lead to superb run out from Woakes. Nathan McCullum and Elliot aided their skipper with important cameos.
At 218-7 (46 overs) all hope rested on McCullum’s broad shoulders and an injury hit Guptill. With 41 runs still remaining, the courageous Guptill (27 off 27) ramped over third man for a maximum and followed it up with two fours.
After that only 13 runs were left from 12 balls, McCullum (69 from 61 balls) greeted Stuart Board hammering a trademark pull straight over the midwicket boundary.
Guptill levelled the score drilling a boundary on the off side and followed it up by lofting over the infield in the process taking the heroic New Zealand home with seven balls still to spare.
Now, England will have to come from behind for a triumphant odi-series against New Zealand starting with a win on Wednesday in the 2nd ODI.