|Second Twenty20, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
|New Zealand 176-8: Neesham 42 (22), Guptill 41 (28), Jordan 3-23
|England 155: Malan 39 (29), Jordan 36 (19), Santner 3-25
|New Zealand won by 21 runs; series level at 1-1
New Zealand beat England by 21 runs to level the Twenty20 series at 1-1 in Wellington.
Chasing 177, England slipped to 3-2 after eight balls before being bowled out for 155 despite Dawid Malan’s 39 and Chris Jordan’s 19-ball 36 late on.
The returning Jimmy Neesham made 42 off 22 deliveries and Martin Guptill 41 in New Zealand’s 176-8, with Jordan taking 3-23 and Sam Curran 2-22.
The third game of the five-match series is in Nelson at 01:00 GMT on Tuesday.
England, who have rested several first-choice players, restricted the Black Caps to what felt like a below-par total, despite dropping five catches, after winning the toss.
Although the pitch had more pace than the one in the series opener in Christchurch and the square boundaries were short, it never felt like England were in control of the chase.
New Zealand spinners Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi were impressive, taking a combined 5-62 from eight overs.
Mixed fortunes for England new boys
After handing debuts to three players in the seven-wicket win on Friday, England gave Lancashire pace bowler Saqib Mahmood his first cap in place of Tom Curran.
Mahmood, bowling in the powerplay and death overs, finished with 1-46 from four overs.
Having conceded 15 from his first over, he fought back well in his second by having Tim Seifert caught behind attempting to ramp.
Mahmood’s final two overs, the 17th and 19th of the innings, went for 11 and 15 respectively, although he regularly found the block hole.
Fellow seamer Pat Brown, who took 1-33 on debut in the series opener, conceded 32 from two overs.
After not bowling or batting in the first game, Lewis Gregory struck with his first ball in international cricket as he nipped one back to bowl the dangerous Colin de Grandhomme, who made 28 from 12 balls.
While not new to international cricket, it was only Sam Curran’s second T20 international appearance and he was again impressive in taking 2-22.
England will be disappointed with the quality of their fielding, however. Three of the five dropped catches were fairly routine, with James Vince spilling two simple chances and an extremely tough one.
Guptill and Neesham fire with the bat
Guptill, who made two from seven balls in the first T20, showed glimpses that he was finding rhythm again during his 28-ball innings.
Strong down the ground and through the on side, he gave New Zealand’s innings impetus at the top of the order, something that was missing on Friday.
All-rounder Neesham had not featured in a T20 international since January 2017, but his impressive 50-over World Cup this summer – when he scored 232 runs and took 15 wickets – earned him a recall.
Based on Sunday’s display, New Zealand have to find a way to get him into their side regularly.
Particularly strong on the leg side, left-handed Neesham also played one gorgeous inside-out shot over extra-cover off Mahmood that demonstrated his undeniable quality.
His contribution was integral to the Kiwis posting a target that proved comfortably beyond England.
‘It’s important to make mistakes’ – what they said
England captain Eoin Morgan: “We were poor with the bat and in the field. We dropped a number of catches, although that probably didn’t cost us the game. Our batting cost us the game – it was a beautiful wicket to bat on.
“We were in the game for a long time and considering we were way off the pace that’s encouraging with a young inexperienced side.
“A lot of things can happen between now and the next game. Our mindset is important. It’s important to make mistakes. The important part is learning from them.”
New Zealand captain Tim Southee: “It was a better performance in all three areas. We knew England would go hard till the end and we saw how deep they bat with Chris Jordan.
“We executed things a little bit better – you always look at ways to do better. This is a different size ground and so is Nelson again on Tuesday. There’s always subtle changes to grounds and then your plans.
“We’re looking to continue to improve, in all three areas. You can never really play the perfect game but it’s about the brand of cricket we want to play.”
England bowler Steven Finn on BBC Test Match Special: “It was a chaseable target but to lose five wickets in the first 10 overs is a pretty hard place to come back from. England were always one wicket behind.
“Putting down easy chances, and misfields, is a window into how the team is really getting on. New Zealand, on the other hand, were clinical.”