Mitchell Santner blasted New Zealand to a three-wicket victory in the first one-day international after Ross Taylor crafted a magnificent century to spoil Ben Stokes' England comeback at Seddon Park.
Joe Root made 71 and Jos Butter's brilliant 79 from only 65 balls got England up to 284-8 in Hamilton, Stokes falling for only 12 in his first international appearance since being arrested following an incident in Bristol last September.
Taylor, who passed the 7,000-run mark for the Black Caps with his 18th ODI hundred, and Tom Latham (79) came to the rescue as the pair produced a stand of 178 after New Zealand were reduced to 27-3.
England looked set to end the hosts' run of eight consecutive ODI wins when Taylor fell for 113 after Stokes (2-43) struck twice, but Santner (45 not out from 27) hit Chris Woakes for his fourth six to seal the win with four balls to spare in a thrilling start to the five-match series.
SUPER-SANTNER!— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) February 25, 2018
Smashes Woakes for SIX over mid-wicket to finish this game with 4 balls to spare. BLACKCAPS chase down 285 to win by 3 wickets #wow
Card - https://t.co/hh0vdXKv7G … #NZvENG pic.twitter.com/2dvl4lZfdI
Jason Roy smashed Ish Sodhi for a huge six two balls after being dropped by the spinner, but the dangerous opener fell for 49 when Santner (2-54) cleaned him up with an arm ball to end a second-wicket stand of 79 with Root after Jonny Bairstow fell early on.
Captain Eoin Morgan failed and England were 139-4 when the returning Stokes top-edged Santner to Taylor after Root brought up his half-century by guiding Colin de Grandhomme to the third-man boundary.
The brutal Buttler dished out more treatment to Sodhi, hitting him for three consecutive sixes, and added another two maximums late in the innings after Colin Munro bowled Root, while Moeen Ali added a brisk 28.
Munro was gone in Woakes' first over when he charged down the track and edged behind, then David Willey was rewarded for an impressive opening spell with the big wicket of the captain Williamson for only eight.
The Black Caps were in all sorts of trouble at 27-3 after Stokes took a sharp catch offered by Martin Guptill to give Woakes a second wicket, but the composed Taylor and Latham got them out of the mire.
A cut for four took Taylor to another half-century and Latham was also raising his bat after being put down by Buttler down the leg side off Adil Rashid on 47.
Stokes ended the long partnership by drawing a false shot from Latham and struck again to remove de Grandhomme, leaving New Zealand on 215-6 in the 42nd over.
Taylor had yet another hundred off 109 balls, but was stumped charging at Rashid in an excellent 46th over and with the game in the balance, Santner hit England's leg-spinner for back-to-back sixes in the 48th over to swing it in New Zealand's favour.
With only nine needed from the last over, Santner eased the nerves with a streaky boundary and the left-hander hit another towering six off Woakes to finish it in style.
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