Mascarenhas steers England to victory

AN all-rounder's performance by Dimitri Mascarenhas steered England to a 32-run win in today's opening Twenty20 International over New Zealand.The tourists' innings was threatening to end in disappointment until the Hampshire star hit 31 off 14 balls to secure a target of 184 for eight after being put in to bat.

AN all-rounder's performance by Dimitri Mascarenhas steered England to a 32-run win in today's opening Twenty20 International over New Zealand.

The tourists' innings was threatening to end in disappointment until the Hampshire star hit 31 off 14 balls to secure a target of 184 for eight after being put in to bat.

Mascarenhas then claimed two for 19 from his four overs, which included removing key men Jamie How and Scott Styris.

This put the Kiwis on the backfoot and they were eventually dismissed for 152.

Mascarenhas' strokeplay was badly needed after England failed to build on an explosive innings of 43 off 24 balls from Kevin Pietersen, which included a six and six fours.

The tourists had decided to leave out in-form Alastair Cook, who scored a hundred in Sunday's warm-up victory over Canterbury, and instead partner hard-hitting Sussex all-rounder Luke Wright with wicketkeeper Phil Mustard at the the top of the order.

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It was a combination which failed to spark with Wright falling to his third ball when he edged Chris Martin behind and was soon followed by Mustard, who hit an entertaining 20 from 13 balls, being caught in the deep after miscuing an attempted pull.

Ian Bell fell cheaply to Jacob Oram's yorker, but Pietersen ensured England continued at a healthy rate and looked on course for a major innings until he was brilliantly caught low down by Ross Taylor at mid-on.

After his demise, England's innings stagnated and it took Mascarenhas to ignite it again.

After debutant Jesse Ryder had conceded only two runs and trapped Owais Shah lbw, stand-in captain Brendon McCullum decided to take him off and bring back off-spinner Jeetan Patel.

It was a costly decision by McCullum, leading the side in the absence of injured captain Daniel Vettori, with Mascarenhas hitting four successive sixes before being caught in the deep in the next over off seamer Kyle Mills.

His efforts enabled England to pass 180 and they built on that momentum with left-arm seamer Ryan Sidebottom claiming two wickets in an opening spell of 3-0-12-2 to dismiss the dangerous McCullum and Taylor.

Mascarenhas increased the pressure on New Zealand by striking with his second delivery to have How caught at long on and in his next over he bowled Styris around his legs attempting a pull.

Facing an increasing required run-rate, New Zealand lost wickets regularly with hard-hitting debutant Ryder being cruelly run-out off Mascarenhas' bowling after slipping attempting to return to the non-striker's end.

Only big-hitting all-rounder Oram offered any continued threat and he raced to a 31-ball half-century - the highest score in the match - including five fours and two sixes.

Oram was dismissed for 61 off 40 balls with four balls remaining after driving Sidebottom to long off but by then even he had given up hope of securing an unlikely victory having started the final over needing 37 to win.

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