New Zealand beats England by five wickets to seal series

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The Independent Online

Opener Nathan Astle smashed a career­best 122 not out today to carry New Zealand to a five wicket victory over England and seal a 3­2 one­day international series win at Carisbrook.

Opener Astle surpassed 5,000 runs in one­day matches when he hit a six in the penultimate over to give New Zealand victory with seven balls to spare.

The Black Caps earlier restricted England to 218­8 batting first after winning the toss, and with Astle leading the way cruised to 223­5 in 48.5 overs in reply.

New Zealand won the first match of the five­match series by four wickets in Christchurch and the second by 155 runs in Wellington. England won the third by 43 runs and tied the series when they won the fourth match by 34 runs in Auckland on Saturday.

Astle's was a superb and dominating innings. He opened the batting and carried his bat for in an innings lasting almost three hours.

He faced 150 balls and punctuated his innings with 12 fours and five sixes, including two sixes in the final over.

Astle put on 55 in only 9.5 overs with Chris Nevin for New Zealand's first wicket then, after the rapid loss of Brendon McCullum and Stephen Fleming, shared a 100­run fourth­wicket stand with Craig McMillan.

New Zealand had slipped from 55­1 to 80­3 but McMillan and Astle restored its fortunes and turned the match.

McMillan made 44 from 69 balls, providing steady support for the dominant Astle. Later, Lou Vincent made 20 and stayed with Astle through nine overs in an unbroken 43­run stand for the sixth wicket.

Astle showed why he is regarded as one of the world's most complete one­day batsmen. He played shots all around the wicket, using the pace of the ball to score behind point and square leg after smashing boundaries in the early overs to the ground's long, straight boundaries.

He pounded sixes over midwicket and long on and drove to the mid­off and cover boundaries.

New Zealand laid the foundation for its win with a strong bowling performance helped by indifferent English batting. England should have made far more than 218­8 after choosing to bat first on one of New Zealand's best one­day wickets.

Captain Nasser Hussain and newcomer Owais Shah made half centuries in the middle of the English innings to offer their team the chance of a substantial score.

They carried England, in a partnership of 71 for the fourth wicket, to 133­4 in 32 overs and toward a competitive score. But Hussain was out for 50 at that score and Shah, for 57, at 170 in the 39th over. No other English batsmen made a major contribution.

Nick Knight made 24 and Paul Collingwood and Ashley Giles 21.

Darryl Tuffey took the top off the English order, reducing them to 62­3 and finishing with 3­42. Chris Cairns continued his work through the middle order and ended with 3­32 from 10 overs.

The teams will meet next month in three test matches.