Wednesday 25 June 2008 

New Zealand Win Last-Ball Thriller At The Brit Oval

New Zealand failed to let a controversial run out stop their momentum as they once again held their nerve to beat England, winning by one wicket in a remarkable finish to a remarkable match in the fourth One Day International at the Brit Oval.

England, bowled out for 245, conceded two runs from the final delivery to lose by one wicket.

Kyle Mills, as he was in Bristol, was the hero, smashing Paul Collingwood for a huge six in the penultimate over while Mark Gillespie somehow scored two runs with New Zealand one behind from the final ball. Mills finished unbeaten on 24 with Gillespie on four.

Mills was at the centre of the incident that could outlast the match, good though it was, in the memory. Grant Elliot was controversially run out in the 44th over of their reply just as he and Mills were looking set to take their side home and the bad feeling the even created was unsavoury, to say the least.

Dropping the ball on the off side, he set off for a single and collided with bowler Ryan Sidebottom. Both players were on the ground, Elliot appearing badly injured, but no matter as England broke the wickets, and claimed the run out. New Zealand players on and off the field were incensed, and at the close of play, there was no sign of a handshake for Paul Collingwood from the New Zealand camp, although after Collingwood was man enough to admit that he had probably done the wrong thing in claiming the run out, New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori apologised and hoped that the two sides would move on.

The match itself was a cracker, although England lost the plot at the close. Luke Wright delivered another nerveless final over, reprising his performance between the two sides in Napier but England first failed to run Gillespie out on the last ball and then allowed an overthrow which meant New Zealand escaped not with a tie, but with an unlikely win.

New Zealand started the day well, maintaining the momentum they gained with their 22-run win in Bristol by bowling England out for 245. Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara scored half-centuries but on a placid track and a hot day, New Zealand's bowlers and fielders shone, Tim Southee picking up three for 47.

New Zealand won the toss, invited England to bat and were soon celebrating with Luke Wright (18) and Kevin Pietersen (nought) back in the dressing room.

Wright was superbly caught at short midwicket by Ross Taylor off of Kyle Mills before Pietersen skied Mark Gillespie to Southee.

Ian Bell looked in superb touch, hammering a Gillespie free hit but once again fell when well set, caught by Brendon McCullum off of Southee for 46, who then had Paul Collingwood bowled off an inside edge for 13.

Owais Shah and Ravi Bopara launched the fightback with Shah hitting two big sixes, one of Southee over midwicket and one over cover off Vettori, with Bopara surviving two blows to the helmet to hit boundaries of his own, some edgy, some classy. The pair added a half-century stand for the fifth wicket with Bopara looking something like back to his best form in an England shirt.

He made it to his second ODI half-century with a flick for four off of Grant Elliot but soon after chipped a Gillespie slower ball to Jacob Oram at mid-on for 58.

Shah took over the mantle and moved to his fifth ODI half-century after taking three fours from one Gillespie over but lost another partner when Tim Ambrose holed out to Daniel Flynn in the deep off of Oram for six.

Graeme Swann followed for three before Shah's excellent innings came to an end when he was run out courtesy of some hesitation and a direct hit from Gillespie in the deep. His innings of 63 from 71 balls included four fours and two sixes in all.

England's tail does not hang around and today was no different, Stuart Broad out for five and James Anderson run out for 11, leaving Ryan Sidebottom, back in the side after injury, unbeaten on eight.

Then, Ryan Sidebottom picked up the key wickets of Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor as England fought back in defence of what seemed a modest total.

Sidebottom had McCullum caught at slip by Graeme Swann for one as he chased a wide one before Taylor (six) was well caught by Stuart Broad at mid off from as the ball went as high as Taylor would have liked it to have gone long as he aimed over midwicket.

Taylor hit a crisp boundary through point and also floored Kevin Pietersen in a collision before his demise which was brought about by fine bowling from Sidebottom and James Anderson which built up the pressure.

They should have been further rewarded but Scott Styris was badly dropped at second slip by Owais Shah.

Dropped twice more by Paul Collingwood and Broad, Styris looked in the mood to make England pay, unleashing a number of drives to the boundary to get New Zealand's run chase back on track.

Swann was back in the action when he had Jamie How caught and bowled for 37, the opener playing for spin where there wasn't any with the result that the ball looped back to the bowler for the simplest of catches. Unlike some of his team-mates, he made no mistake.

Shortly after he had the wicket of Daniel Flynn, too, caught by Ian Bell for a breezy 11 but Styris took advantage of the lives England had given him and went on to register his 22nd ODI half-century.

Jacob Oram came and in offered valuable support to Styris, blazing his way to 38 from 30 balls in a half-century stand that threatened to take the game beyond England before he was hurried by an Anderson short ball and Alastair Cook took a tumbling catch in the deep.

Styris was run out for 69 and when Daniel Vettori was well caught by Ravi Bopara for six off of Paul Collingwood, the game had turned once again back towards England.

Grant Elliot (28) played another gritty innings before being controversially run out. Dropping the ball on the off side, he set off for a single and collided with bowler Sidebottom. Both players were on the ground, Elliot appearing badly injured, but no matter as England broke the wickets, and claimed the run out.

The New Zealand players and support staff were disgusted and even some of the England players didn't seem sure if they had done the right thing by the spirit of the game, if not the laws.

A conventional run out saw off Tim Southee for six to leave Kyle Mills and Mark Gillespie with 12 needed from 18.

Swann delivered a maiden before Mills smashed Collingwood into the stand, losing the ball in the process. Mills was on strike for the final over with three required, and immediately took a single leaving Gillespie five balls.

Four dots were played, two misses, one block, and one shot which hit Mills at the non-strikers end before the last act, which saw Gillespie push into the onside.

Bell fielded, missed all three stumps, plus all three England fielders who had converged on them. No-one was backing up which enabled the batsmen to turn and for New Zealand to go to Lord's 2-1 up.

© Cricket World 2008