Jos Buttler was left to reflect on a squandered opportunity as a missed run-out cost England dear against New Zealand.
After losing the first two games of the Trans-Tasman T20 series to Australia, the tourists literally threw away their hopes of getting back to winning ways against the Black Caps.
Mark Wood was the man responsible for England’s sliding doors moment, hurling the ball wide of the stumps to reprieve home captain Kane Williamson on nought.
Jos Buttler had a front row seat as New Zealand’s Kane Williamson (left) hit 72 against England
Williamson helped his New Zealand side post 196 for five in Tuesday’s Trans-Tasman T20 game
Williamson went on to play the evening’s decisive innings of 72, pouring salt into Wood’s wounds with a handful of big hits at the Durham seamer’s expense to help New Zealand post 196 for five.
England gave a decent account of themselves with the bat, Alex Hales racing to 47 and Dawid Malan making a neat 59, but a regular tumble of wickets left them 184 for nine at the close.
‘That’s always the way it goes, a bit of luck for Kane and he goes on to become the player of the match,’ he said. ‘It would have been nice to take that chance but games are defined by fine margins the whole time.’
With Australia already assured of a place in the final, New Zealand are now firm favourites to join them.
They effectively have two chances to book their spot in Auckland later this month, with one win from their next two games enough to edge England out.
England have several questions to answer as they await their fate, having seen their batting misfire in Hobart and Melbourne followed by a lacklustre bowling performance at the Westpac Stadium.
Wood and Adil Rashid took two wickets apiece but proved far too costly, while there was a lack of consistency across the board.
Williamson could have been out earlier for nought but Mark Wood fluffed his run-out attempt
Buttler failed with the bat in the chase but claimed England lost the game in the first innings
‘They probably got a few too many, we were just off it a little with the ball,’ Buttler said. ‘We didn’t put enough pressure on them and gave them 10-15 too many which was the difference in the game.
‘We have to find ways to improve fast.’
Williamson, who saw his own place in the side questioned by former international Simon Doull and came into the match managing a niggling back injury, was happy to take his share of good fortune at Wood’s expense.
‘I thought the ball was going to roll a bit further… then it didn’t,’ he said of his misjudged single.
‘It happens, it’s nice to get a bit of luck sometimes. Sometimes you get bad luck too. You try not to rely on it, you train hard and practice plans and you want to perform every day but that doesn’t always happen.’
Both sides had eyed an unsual looking drop-in pitch with suspicion on arrival at the ground, but any fears of a bowler’s paradise were blown away amid a torrent of sixes.
‘It didn’t look pretty but it played a lot better than that,’ said Williamson.
Williamson was eventually bowled by Chris Jordan but by then the damage had been done