England cruised to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the opening Twenty20 International (T20I) in Christchurch on Friday. James Vince top-scored for the tourists with 59, notching his maiden T20I half century as England chased down New Zealand’s 154-run target in 18.3 overs.
A three-wicket haul from spinner Mitchell Santner was not enough to rescue the Black Caps, whose batting line-up failed to fire after England won the toss and opted to bowl. Despite Dawid Malan falling early, his opening partner Jonny Bairstow (35), Eoin Morgan (34*) and a strokeful 38-ball 59 from Vince - playing only his ninth T20I - helped England ease to their target with minimal fuss. With bg guns like Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes rested for the series, Vince made this opportunity to bat at No. 3 count.
In their chase, England and New Zealand were almost neck-to-neck till the 10th over, but the visitors then cut loose and the Black Caps failed to to choke the batsmen as a result. With 10 more needed for victory, the England captain finished the innings off with a four and a six off his counterpart Tim Southee.
Earlier, England restricted New Zealand to 153 for five with a disciplined bowling performance. Morgan backed his bowlers after winning the toss and was rewarded as the Black Caps struggled for runs, with veteran Ross Taylor top scoring on 44.
Debutants Sam Curran and Pat Brown both snared a wicket for the tourists, while Chris Jordan had the best bowling figures after claiming two scalps for 28 runs. The poor form that dogged Martin Guptill at the World Cup continued when Curran coaxed an inside edge that crashed into middle stump.
Fellow opener Colin Munro tried to break the shackles as New Zealand smashed three sixes off Curran’s next over but he overdid the aggression against Chris Jordan and was caught on the boundary for 21. The Black Caps continued to struggle for momentum and had made just 72 at the half-way mark, when Colin de Grandhomme departed on 19.
Tim Siefert looked the batsman most likely to rescue New Zealand’s innings but was frustrated when caught for 32 off a full toss from Jordan that he believed was a no ball. New Zealand failed to reach a par score in the end.
The second fixture in the five-match series takes place in Wellington on Sunday.
New Zealand 153 for 5 in 20 overs (Ross Taylor 44, Tim Seifert 32; Chris Jordan 2 for 28) lost to England 154 for 3 in 18.3 overs (James Vince 59, Jonny Bairstow 35; Mitchell Santner 3 for 23) by 7 wickets
Player of the match: James Vince