England held on for a thrilling four-run win in the third one-day international in Wellington, despite an unbeaten century by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.
Williamson finished 112 not out, rebuilding New Zealand’s innings after a middle-order collapse provoked by off-spinner Moeen Ali, who took 3-36 from his ten overs, and leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who took 2-34.
New Zealand had been strongly placed at 97-2 in the 21st over, chasing England’s 234 all out in 50 overs.
Ali, who narrowly missed out on a hat-trick, and Rashid shared five wickets to set in motion a collapse which saw New Zealand slump to 103-6.
Williamson rebuilt the innings in a determined partnership of 96 with Mitchell Santner, which ended when Santner (41) was run out at the non-striker’s end in the 46th over. Williamson hit a ball from Chris Woakes, pictured, straight back down the pitch and Woakes, on his follow through, deflected the ball on to the stumps after Santner had left his ground.
Although Williamson kept New Zealand in the hunt until the final over, he fell agonisingly short when it ended at 230-8 to give England a narrow win and a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
“It was very frustrating,” Williamson said. “Starting off in our innings, we were in a position of strength after 15 overs or so, then we stumbled a bit in the middle which really hurt us. We had to take the game even deeper and it was just a shame not to get across the line tonight.”
Earlier, captain Eoin Morgan – who grafted 48 on a lifeless pitch – was the first man to show any mastery of the pitch, reaching his 48 from 71 balls with three fours and a six – one of only two sixes in the innings. Jason Roy struggled to 15 from 26 balls, Jonny Bairstow hit 19 from 39, and Joe Root a much faster 20 from 22 balls.
Later innings of 29 from 23 balls by Jos Buttler and 23 from 19 balls from man-of-the-match Ali helped England to a total which proved to be just sufficient.
“It was a brilliant game, very tight in the end, but it was a brilliant last few overs by us,” Ali said. “It was a great wicket for spinners to bowl on and the wickets just came really. They weren’t great balls or anything but the balls in between were building the pressure.”