HAMILTON Brendon McCullum produced a match winning innings while a limping Martin Guptill returned after retiring hurt to guide New Zealand to a three-wicket victory over England in their first one-day international at Seddon Park on Sunday.
McCullum finished on 69 while Guptill, who retired hurt on three after he strained his left hamstring only to return when New Zealand were 218 for seven, was 27 not out as the hosts scored 259-7 in 48.5 overs, having bowled England out for 258.
The 31-year-old McCullum had needed to provide the game-winning innings after he ran out Kane Williamson earlier when New Zealand appeared well placed for victory at 142-3 in the 34th over.
The dismissal came with Williamson on 74 and McCullum starting to look settled as the batting power play approached.
Williamson, who had been the most assured of New Zealand's batsmen, guiding the ball around the ground with ease, was run out when McCullum called for a single, changed his mind and left his partner short of his ground at the non-striker's end.
"I thought he was playing outstanding," McCullum said with a smile, while also stating he had apologised to the 22-year-old Williamson.
"His intent right from ball one was superb and he was controlling the game nicely. It's a shame I cut him off but hopefully he can back that up."
Williamson's departure produced a tighter-than-expected finish as New Zealand wickets fell regularly before McCullum seized the initiative and Guptill returned to flail away then hit the winning runs and give the hosts a 1-0 series lead.
"They were 180 for two at one point and for us to show those fighting characteristics ...and restrict them to under 260 was fantastic.
"I'm delighted for the team to bounce back again after the T20 series (loss against England) and continue the momentum we built up in South Africa in this form of the game."
England were dismissed for 258 in the final over of their innings after Ian Bell (64), Jonathan Trott (68) and Joe Root (56), provided a platform from which England could attack in the final overs but the visitors failed to capitalise on the small ground hosting the opener of the three-match series.
Trott's dismissal at 184-3 in the 39th over actually sparked a dramatic loss of momentum as the visitors went on to lose their final six wickets for 38 runs in six overs.
"We were looking toward 280 to 290 (but)... you still have to go in and hit the ball well and we didn't manage to do that," England captain Alastair Cook said.
"Credit to the way New Zealand bowled in that period. I think we lost eight wickets in the last 15 or 16 overs and you can't really do that if you're going to build a big score.
"I thought the way we bowled and defended it we did quite well. We got ourselves into a really good position but didn't capitalise and... the way (McCullum) played that last five or six overs he took the game away from us."
Mitchell McClenaghan finished with figures of four for 56 from 9.4 overs but he picked up a side strain that his captain said would rule him out of the rest of the series and New Zealand's domestic season.
McCullum said Guptill would be assessed on Monday but New Zealand Cricket confirmed that he would definitely miss the second match of the series.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by John O'Brien)