England fightback ties New Zealand series

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The Independent Online

England today completed a remarkable fightback for the second time this winter by claiming a 33-run victory over New Zealand to take their one-day series into a deciding game next week.

Trailing 2-0 after the first two matches, the tourists repeated their superb efforts at the end of the six-match series in India by winning back-to-back matches, leaving the outcome of the series resting on Tuesday's match in Dunedin.

Having bounced back from their Wellington mauling with a 43-run victory in Napier, the tourists were even more impressive under the lights at Eden Park.

Chasing a revised Duckworth-Lewis victory target of 223 in a match reduced to 40 overs by rain interruptions after England had reached 193 for six, New Zealand slumped to 189 all out after some determined lower-order strokeplay led by all-rounder Chris Cairns.

It was not quite as comprehensive a victory as the defeat they suffered only last week, but it puts England's young side, who were expected to struggle both here and in India, within one match of claiming a famous series triumph.

England's total was built around a spirited partnership between Michael Vaughan and Graham Thorpe, who added 89 off only 87 deliveries in a crucial fourth-wicket partnership to steady the innings just as New Zealand were beginning to make inroads.

Their stand, which was dominated by Vaughan to such an extent that Thorpe contributed just 33, was only broken when the Yorkshire batsman suffered yet another bizarre mode of dismissal to add to his Bangalore experience.

Having become only the second England player in history to be given out handled ball during the last Test against India in December, Vaughan this time managed to drop his bat at the crucial moment as spinner Daniel Vettori attempted to run him out.

Vaughan, who had hit 59 from 67 balls after being named in England's line-up as a replacement for Owais Shah, had advanced down the pitch in an attempt to hit spinner Vettori over the top.

But instead, Vettori outwitted Vaughan, who drove straight back to the bowler and was then forced to lunge for his crease as New Zealand's premier spinner threw at the stumps.

After consultation with television replays, Vaughan walked off to the dressing room after it appeared he had dropped his bat at the vital moment.

But Thorpe, fresh from his crucial half-century in the victory at Napier, repeated the feat today and guided England to a useful total, which was further helped by the Duckworth-Lewis system for calculating New Zealand's victory score.

To add further to Vaughan's woes, he was later forced to limp out of New Zealand's innings having already taken two useful catches when he damaged his right shoulder going for a third catch and was replaced by Ben Hollioake.

Chasing that revised target was always likely to be difficult, but the opening spell of Matthew Hoggard effectively put pay to New Zealand's hopes of forcing victory in front of their biggest crowd of the series.

Hoggard, once again preferred to the more-experienced Andrew Caddick, removed both Chris Nevin and Brendon McCullum during an opening spell of 8-1-27-2, as New Zealand slipped to 86 for six.

Cairns and Chris Harris kept up the spirits of the 36,000 crowd with a 67-run partnership spanning 10 overs, but by then the required run-rate was approaching 10 an over.

Harris fell driving Craig White to Flintoff in the deep and Cairns' impressive innings of 58 from 56 deliveries was ended when he was bowled by Paul Collingwood attempting another big shot.

When Cairns fell, New Zealand needed 56 from five overs and even the big-hitting of Andrew Adams, who finished unbeaten on 26 from 14 balls, could do little to influence the result.