New Zealand opener Martin Guptill provided the star turn as the Black Caps finally turned in a winning performance on their tour of England.
Guptill hit 103 as he led his side to a five wicket win in the first one-day international at Lord’s on Friday, providing some cheer for the beleaguered side after being thrashed 2-0 in the test series.
Guptill totalled three runs in the losing effort in Leeds but he was in fine form in St Johns Wood, carrying his bat for an unbeaten century, his third in ODIs.
After New Zealand lost two wickets in the first over to James Anderson, England’s hero of the first test, Guptill went about rebuilding the innings with Ross Taylor as they chased England’s total of 227-9.
Taylor departed soon after making a half-century, but good support from Grant Elliott and James Franklin, both of whom missed the test series, allowed Guptill to steer his side home.
Earlier, a steady effort by the New Zealand bowlers and some poor shot selection helped limit England to a very achievable target.
Tim Southee, who took 10 wickets in the first test at Lord’s, turned in another good performance at the home of cricket, taking 3-37, while off-spinner Nathan McCullum, in as a replacement for Daniel Vettori who pulled out on the morning of the match, took 2-34.
Openers Alastair Cook (30) and Ian Bell (18) got England off to a solid start, but after they departed to the bowling of Southee, the middle order conspired to throw their wickets away, with Jonathan Trott, Joe Root and Eion Morgan all falling to poor strokes.
The lower-to-middle order did their best to rescue the situation as they batted through to a par-score..
The New Zealand chase got off to the worst possible start, with debutant and former Australia international Luke Ronchi and Kane Williamson both falling to Anderson in the first over.
Taylor and Guptill steadied the innings, putting on a partnership of 120 before Taylor caught an inside edge off Anderson when on 54.
A similar blow in the test series inevitably triggered a batting collapse, but the one-day unit are typically far more composed, as it proved once again.
Elliott (27) offered Guptill good support in a 47-run partnership until wafting over a ball from spinner Graeme Swann, and while skipper McCullum looked out of sorts in his brief stay at the crease, Franklin offered another steadying effort.
Guptill had some nervous moments in the 90s, skying a shot that just fell out of reach of an England fielder, and also having to contend with Frankin’s quick scoring rate that nearly saw him polish off the target before he had made his own personal milestone.
On 99 he survived a reviewed LBW shout off Tim Bresnan, who then conceeded four byes to see the scores tied with the batsman one short of his milestone
He wasn’t to be denied however, bringing up three figures and victory with a flick off his hips, giving the team and its supporters plenty to cheer about.
The second ODI will be played in Southampton on Sunday.