Black Caps Hold Nerve In Tense Thriller With England

Sean DeanContributor IJune 25, 2008

New Zealand managed to win a game no one seemed to want to win.  First poor shot selection by England batsman led to what seemed like a below par total of 245, after being but into bat, with Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah getting fifties, but no one able to push on and provide the platform needed to post a competitive score.

This is not to discount the efforts of Kyle Mills (2-44) and Tim Southee (3-47), who used the pace of the pitch on an otherwise batsman's wicket.

What seemed like a routine chase started that way, despite the early loss of dangerman Brendan McCullum, who had returned to keeping duties, which allowed the fit again Jacob Oram to return.

But it was Oram who triggered the Kiwi's collapse in the 34th over, when he holed out to sub fielder Alistair Cook at deep midwicket, when 79 runs were required from the remaining 16 overs.

Then new batsman Grant Elliot ran out Scott Styris (69) just a few overs later, leaving two new batsman at the crease. Vettori came and went after flicking a Paul Collingwood slower ball to Bopara at midwicket.

As the wickets were falling, New Zealand required just 51 runs of the last ten overs, when the match took dramatic turn which will be remembered for years to come.

Elliot blocked Ryan Sidebottom's delivery, Mills had set off for the run, Sidebottom charged in to retrieve the ball and collided with Elliot, flooring them both, leaving Ian Bell to throw to Kevin Pietersen and run Elliot out at the non striker's end.

Umpire Mark Benson appeared to ask England Captain, Collingwood if he wanted to remove his appeal for a run out to which Collingwood shook his head, leaving the Black Caps balcony incensed by the decision.

This brought Southee to the crease, hoping to translate some of his bowling form to his bat, but a direct hit in the 47th over by Bell left England needing one wicket to win, and New Zealand 13 runs from 20 balls and 11th man Mark Gillespie entering the middle.

A single meant Gillespie had to endure a maiden from Graeme Swann, with one bambozzlling him and just going over the stumps. That left 12 of 12, a tense finish, but a booming six over mid wicket by Mills off Collingwood and three singles led to three to win off the final over.

A single off the first ball meant just two to win off five balls, but Gillespie was on strike and Luke Wright, hero of the Napier Tie, was giving him a torrid time with the ball. Gillespie was unable to get bat on ball with the England fielders pouncing on every ball, giving nothing away.

With two off two, now was the last chance to get Mills on strike, but the Kiwi's couldn't risk the run out to get Mills on strike, with this their last wicket. This left two to win off the final ball. Finally, Gillespie got bat to ball, into the legside, both batsman set off for the run.

Swann went for the stumps with three men around the non striker's end.  With Gillespie nowhere near his ground, Swann missed the stumps and the fielders, allowing the batsman to run two and win an incredibly dramatic contest.

England were distraught and New Zealand didn't come out to clap the players off the pitch, still smarting after the Elliot run out. Paul Collingwood later apologised to the New Zealand dressing room and Kiwi Capatain Daniel Vettori accepted the apology.

New Zealand now lead the series 2-1 going into the final match at Lord's on Saturday.