New Zealand clinch series
McCullum blitz paves way for 34-run win
By Graeme Mair. Last Updated: February 23, 2008 11:20am
New Zealand celebrate their 3-1 series win
New Zealand completed a 3-1 series victory with a 34-run triumph over England in the fifth one-day international.
Luke Wright contributed a quickfire 47 as England reached 242-7 after being asked to bat on a slow pitch in Christchurch.
But that looked totally inadequate when Brendon McCullum blasted 77 from 43 balls to put New Zealand on a fast track to victory.
And although the middle order stumbled in comparison to McCullum's free scoring, they were well in control of the run chase when rain arrived after 37 overs.
At that point the Black Caps were on 213-6, 28 ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis calculation. The rain did relent but New Zealand had already passed their revised target of 209 from 41 overs and were declared winners without having to return to the middle.
New Zealand began their run chase in style. McCullum and Jesse Ryder shared an opening stand of 103 in 68 balls, an astonishing assault from which none of England's front line bowlers - James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad - were spared.
The charge was led by McCullum's 27-ball half-century. Ryder - who survived a difficult chance to Ian Bell at point in the second over - was content to feed his partner the strike at every opportunity.
McCullum was also dropped twice prior to reaching 50 - Alastair Cook grassed a diving chance at point and, less forgivably, Broad failed to get a hand on a swirling chance down at third-man.
England looked clueless to stop the flow of runs and needed a fortunate run out to break the stand in the 12th over. Kevin Pietersen's direct hit accounted for Ryder (24), who had got his bat stuck in the turf as he attempted to slide it into the crease.
But McCullum continued his savage assault and was on pace to beat Craig McMillan's 67-ball record for New Zealand's fastest one-day century when he was bowled playing across the line at Paul Collingwood's medium pace.
That brought an end to a 43-ball innings of 77 that featured five fours and six sixes and - with New Zealand in control of the required rate on 118-2 after 16 overs - should have paved the way for a comfortable win.
Instead, they made hard work of it - experienced pair Jamie How (24) and Scott Styris (25) both throwing away their wickets when well set to finish the job.
And when Sidebottom removed Daniel Flynn and Jacob Oram with successive deliveries in the 34th over, New Zealand were wobbling slightly at 197-6.
Flynn, selected ahead of Peter Fulton for his debut, was trapped lbw for a three-ball duck. Sidebottom (3-51) followed up with a delivery that jagged back off the seam to expose Oram's lack of foot movement and clatter into off-stump.
Skipper Daniel Vettori (7no) survived a vociferous caught behind appeal to help Ross Taylor (41no) add 16 runs for the seventh wicket before rain arrived with the hosts on 213-6 after 37 overs.
That put them 28 runs ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis calculation. And although the rain did relent, New Zealand had already passed their revised target of 209 from 41 overs.
Earlier, Kyle Mills claimed the wickets of Phil Mustard and Bell during a superb eight-over opening spell that cost just 16 runs after England had been asked to bat.
Mustard's (2) sliced drive was well caught by How running backwards from point in the third over, while Bell (24) chipped a catch straight to Flynn on the long-off boundary to end a sedate second-wicket stand of 52 from 71 balls with Cook.
With the slow nature of the pitch making it difficult to time the ball when playing straight, Cook and Pietersen appeared content to build steadily during a third-wicket partnership of 48 in 11 overs.
The stand ended when left-arm spinner Vettori trapped Cook lbw for 42 with a quicker delivery to leave England on 103-5 at the mid-point of the innings.
That became 128-5 in the 34th over after Pietersen and Paul Collingwood departed in quick succession.
Pietersen (39) heaved off-spinner Jeetan Patel's second delivery to Ryder on the midwicket boundary, and Collingwood (14) was stumped after being drawn down the pitch to become Vettori's second victim.
It was not until Wright came in at number seven that England's scoring rate began to pick up during a 69-run alliance with Owais Shah.
The Sussex all-rounder's contribution was 47 from 40 balls, including four sixes during an impressive display of clean hitting.
Mills returned to remove both Wright and Shah (29) in the 47th over to finish with figures of 4-36.
England hauled themselves up to 242-7 by taking 42 runs from the final four overs, including an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 41 off 19 balls between Stuart Broad (11no) and Dimitri Mascarenhas.
Mascarenhas (29no) continued to enhance his destructive batting reputation by taking 22 - including two sixes - from Ryder's final over.