Stuart Broad, the England captain, admitted choosing to bowl first was a mistake after New Zealand levelled the Twenty20 series in Hamilton. New Zealand posted 192 for 6 and only Jos Buttler's late flourish got the tourists within 55 runs. Defeat drops them to sixth in the ICC Twenty20 rankings.
"We probably should have batted first – I got that wrong," said Broad. "It was a disappointing performance throughout but Twenty20 can be like that. Things can go well one day and not so well the next.
"Credit New Zealand, they played very well. At halfway we were still in with a chance but obviously losing early wickets you're chasing the game from there."
On Buttler, whose 54 from 30 balls spared some of England's blushes by carrying them past both their record low score and worst defeat in this format, Broad said: "He has hit a lovely run of form, standing still and striking the ball really cleanly.
"It's a shame we couldn't get a few more runs on the board [before Buttler came in]. With these smaller grounds you can pretty much chase anything with enough wickets intact.
"It will be an exciting third game, both sides will go hell for leather."
The New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum, who led by example with 74, said: "The other night was disappointing and England blew us off the park. Tonight was a much improved performance.
"It's nice to make a contribution, captain or not. It was good to play a hand but so did the other guys and we're happy with the display."
On Friday's series finale, he added: "It will be a great crowd and spectacle at Wellington. We have to step up a gear."
New Zealand pace bowler Ian Butler, who took two wickets for nine runs, added: "The bowlers did a great job to set it up for me.
"We had to chase 20 too many the other day and today they were probably chasing a similar amount too many. They were forced to take risks and lost wickets.
"I can't wait to get to Wellington. We've got a young, fresh team and we'll be ready to win the series."