As Twenty20 cricket celebrates its 10th anniversary, we had a match to remind us why the shortest form of the game won immediate popularity, as New Zealand took a thrilling victory.
On a warm summer's evening at The Oval, a near-capacity crowd saw 397 runs scored, including 15 sixes and 33 fours. An excellent pitch, a short boundary, heavy hitting, a sensational slip catch, a ramp shot and a brilliant run-out. With due respect to bowlers, this is what Twenty20 should be all about.
Kevin Pietersen, watching from the balcony before his probable return to international cricket on Thursday, would surely have approved of the action, if not the result.
Chasing 202 for victory, an unfamiliar England side needed 16 from the last over. Even though Ben Stokes hit the first ball for six, Corey Anderson held his nerve and New Zealand won by five runs - the same margin by which India beat England in the Champions Trophy final.
“With one blow we could have won the game,” said Eoin Morgan, leading the side in Stuart Broad's absence. “It will be good to have Kevin Pietersen back in the team. Very few people around the world can bring what he does to the table.”
With the Ashes due to start two weeks today, and with the Champions Trophy only just concluded, England rested many of their senior players.
Morgan was one of four survivors, along with Ravi Bopara, Jos Buttler and James Tredwell, from the team defeated by India on Sunday.
Morgan's decision to insert New Zealand brought immediate reward. Debutant Boyd Rankin took a wicket with his fourth ball for England, when James Franklin was caught behind off an inside edge.
Thereafter, Hamish Rutherford, who was named man of the match, and Brendon McCullum, his captain, tore apart the England attack, taking advantage of the proximity of the boundary on one side.
Rutherford was dropped on 25 but that was a rare uncomfortable moment. Of his four sixes, two came in consecutive deliveries from Tredwell. The left-hander reached his half-century from 28 deliveries before he showed unnecessary haste during Luke Wright's first over and was caught at long-off.
McCullum was similarly destructive. His 68 included an outrageous top-edged six that flew over the wicketkeeper's head but he, too, fell to Wright. McCullum made room to hit over extra-cover but was bowled by the yorker.
After Wright had removed the Kiwi captain, England applied the brakes and although New Zealand had batted impressively, 202 looked attainable. The hosts charged to 50, from only 22 balls, with a six down the ground from Michael Lumb, who was bowled next ball by Nathan McCullum.
When Alex Hales, who survived a stumping chance, was caught at deep midwicket for 39 from 29 balls, England's run rate was exactly 10 per over. Morgan was caught brilliantly, one-handed, by Ross Taylor at slip.
Then Wright, who had scored a 29-ball fifty, was dismissed and England needed more than 12 an over. Buttler produced a ramp shot for six but his run-out proved decisive. Bopara needed to hit the last ball for six to force a tie and super over. He managed only a single.
The Oval scoreboard
First Twenty20 match: New Zealand beat England by five runs; England won toss
H D Rutherford c Hales b Wright 62/4/6/35/53
J E C Franklin c Buttler b Rankin 0/0/0/1/0
*B B McCullum b Wright 68/2/7/48/65
L R P L Taylor not out 32/1/2/19/37
†T W M Latham c Bopara b Dernbach 22/1/1/17/16
C Munro not out 0/0/0/0/0
Extras (lb6 w11) 17
Total (for 4, 20 overs): 201
Fall 1-1, 2-115, 3-161, 4-200.
Did not bat N L McCullum, C J Anderson, R M Hira, I G Butler, M J McClenaghan.
Bowling W B Rankin 4-0-24-1, C R Woakes 1-0-19-0, J W Dernbach 4-0-31-1, B A Stokes 3-0-26-0, J C Tredwell 2-0-32-0, R S Bopara 2-0-32-0, L J Wright 4-0-31-2.
M J Lumb b N L McCullum 29/2/3/15/17
A D Hales c Franklin b Hira 39/1/5/29/44
L J Wright c Latham b McClenaghan 52/1/6/34/50
*E J G Morgan c Taylor b Butler 7/0/0/10/15
R S Bopara not out 30/1/2/18/36
†J C Buttler run out 17/1/1/10/19
B A Stokes not out 9/1/0/5/6
Extras (lb8 w4 nb1) 13
Total (for 5, 20 overs): 196
Fall 1-50, 2-105, 3-134, 4-139, 5-184.
Did not bat C R Woakes, J C Tredwell, J W Dernbach, W B Rankin.
Bowling M J McClenaghan 4-0-37-1, I G Butler 4-0-35-1, N L McCullum 3-0-37-1, R M Hira 4-0-34-1, C J Anderson 4-0-40-0, J E C Franklin 1-0-5-0.
Umpires R J Bailey and R K Illingworth.Reuse content