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20th February 2008

Durham duo help keep England in line for a tie

England kept the one-day series with New Zealand alive after battling back from the brink of defeat to claim a thrilling tie in a high-scoring fourth one-day international in Napier.

Needing seven off the final over to overhaul England’s total of 340 for six – their third highest in one-day internationals – England captain Paul Collingwood chose Sussex all-rounder Luke Wright to bowl the final over, his first of the game.

Wright responded brilliantly and, after James Anderson ran out Jamie How, who hit a superb 139 off 116 balls, off the penultimate ball, Daniel Vettori needed two to win off the final delivery or one to tie.

He scrambled a leg bye – but only after Collingwood missed a throw at the stumps to run out Kyle Mills to leave the series resting on Saturday’s finale in Christchurch.

England’s daunting total was built by a consistent display from the top order, with openers Alastair Cook and Phil Mustard laying the platform with a 158-run stand before Collingwood smashed the quickest one-day half-century by an England player.

Despite needing seven an over throughout their chase, New Zealand remained on course until that final nerve-wracking over, when England’s fielding pressured them into mistakes and gave them another chance to level the series.

Wicketkeeper Mustard had dropped Brendon McCullum on seven off Anderson, a mistake which allowed him to forge a 70-run opening stand with Jesse Ryder and contribute 58 off 65 balls to New Zealand’s amazing run-chase.

Ryder, brought up locally, set the tone with an aggressive 39 off 32 balls. He took particular pleasure in targeting Anderson, who was hammered for 44 from his first four overs but gained his revenge with a superb running catch after the left-hander miscued an attempted drive off Stuart Broad.

A 91-run stand spanning 14 overs between McCullum and How left England bereft of ideas until Collingwood turned to the part-time off-spin of Owais Shah in the 25th over.

Shah claimed a wicket with his third legitimate ball, McCullum over-balancing and allowing Mustard to stump him and give England renewed hope of defending their total.

How found a willing accomplice in Ross Taylor, the pair adding 86 to take New Zealand to within 88 runs of victory with 13 overs remaining.

However, the loss of Taylor, caught behind off Anderson, provoked panic among New Zealand’s ranks for the first time with Scott Styris being caught at long-on, Peter Fulton run out without scoring and the dangerous Jacob Oram driving to extra cover in the space of eight overs.

The dramatic run-out of How in the final over seemed to have finally swung the momentum in England’s favour, but Vettori managed to scramble the run required to deny the tourists victory as Collingwood charged in from point and narrowly missed the one stump he had to aim at.

Collingwood had earlier made use of the short boundaries at McLean Park to devastating effect, racing to a 24-ball fifty that contained six of the 10 sixes England struck in their innings.

All England’s top five scored 40 or more while Wright pitched in with a quickfire 24 off 13 balls which enabled the tourists to add 101 in the final 10 overs. Collingwood finished unbeaten on 54 off only 30 deliveries.

Cook and Mustard, England’s opening pair, were under pressure after averaging only 22 together in their previous eight outings, and were given an early reprieve when Cook, on two, was dropped by wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.

That escape enabled Cook, and particularly Mustard, who registered his maiden one-day international half-century, to punish New Zealand’s bowling during the fielding restrictions.

Both players seemed in sight of three figures when despairing New Zealand captain Vettori turned to part-time medium-pacer Ryder to break the partnership in the 27th over.

Ryder, who grew up playing cricket across the road at Nelson Park, responded by dismissing Mustard with his fifth delivery, caught at long-on after hitting 83 off 74 balls.

Cook followed next ball for 69, bowled middle stump playing across the line, but Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen responded by adding 74 in only 12 overs.

Bell holed out to deep mid-wicket off Iain O’Brien for an impressive 43 and Pietersen followed four overs later, bowled by Vettori slogging across the line, having hit 50 off 47 balls.

Owais Shah was also caught in the deep attempting to score quick runs in the closing overs, but Collingwood and Wright combined superbly in a 49-run partnership spanning only 25 deliveries.

Collingwood took a particular liking to the main stand during his brutal stay – he pulled five sixes into it, including one which hit the roof.

Wright was dismissed off the final ball to bring a thrilling innings to an end, but the excitement levels paled in comparison to the climax of New Zealand’s pulsating pursuit.