England fell 86 runs short of the second-highest chase in one-day international history, at the Ageas Bowl yesterday, and therefore lost the NatWest Series to New Zealand.
Despite centurion Jonathan Trott’s best efforts to make up for dropping Martin Guptill on 13, England’s batsmen had no significant answer to the Kiwi opener’s 189 not out and could muster only 273 all out in reply to 359 for three.
Guptill’s highest ODI score by a New Zealander, which also equalled Viv Richards’ best against England for any opposition, left the hosts with a mission improbable from the outset – albeit on a very good pitch and quick outfield.
He gave just one chance, and was curiously dropped playing the same shot on the same score off the same bowler as he was on his way to a hundred at Lord’s two days ago.
By the end of an innings in which Jade Dernbach – 10-0-87-0 – suffered most among England’s bowlers, Guptill had hit 19 fours and two sixes from 155 balls.
By comparison Trott’s 109 not out, from 104, paled.
New Zealand, who chose to bat on a sunny morning, were always on course for a big total once Guptill and Kane Williamson (55) joined forces after the early loss of Luke Ronchi to James Anderson.
Ronchi’s departure, bowled middle-stump stuck back in the crease to go cheaply to the hosts’ lynchpin seamer, took Anderson to within one wicket of Darren Gough’s all-time England record ODI tally of 234.
As at Lord’s, Guptill then had his one glaring piece of good fortune off Chris Woakes – again dropped in the first-change’s first over, his pull this time put down by Trott at mid-wicket rather than Tim Bresnan at deep backward-square on Friday.
Either way, it proved an even more costly drop as Guptill and Williamson began milking the bowling in highly-advantageous conditions.
England needed to exceed by more than 50 their highest successful chase, and substantially surpass, too, the 338 for eight which had snatched a World Cup tie from India in Bangalore in 2011.
After a fluent opening stand of 50 between Alastair Cook and Ian Bell, they were able to match New Zealand’s run rate up to and beyond the 40-over mark. But, once Cook fell to Kyle Mills and then Bell miscued a simple catch to mid-off as he tried to hit Doug Bracewell over the top, the wickets column was always an uncomfortable one for the hosts.
The tourists have now beaten England in seven of their last eight ODIs in this country.
And, with an unassailable 2-0 series lead in the bag, they have a chance to complete an unexpected whitewash at Trent Bridge on Wednesday before the ICC Champions Trophy kicks off.