McCullum too good for England
5:36pm Saturday 22nd March 2014 in © Press Association 2014
England were undone by the brilliance of New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum and an unexpected thunderstorm in Chittagong as they lost their World Twenty20 opener by nine runs on Duckworth/Lewis.
England posted an impressive 172 for six having being asked to bat first but saw the game taken away from them in the blink of an eye in a reply that lasted just 5.2 overs before thunder, lightning and heavy rain engulfed the stadium.
Heading into the fifth over - the minimum needed to constitute a game - the Black Caps were three short of the D/L par at 31 for one, losing further ground when Stuart Broad sent down successive dot balls.
But with a theatrical sense of timing, McCullum swung the game in the space of four dramatic deliveries.
First he took a step down the track and flicked Broad for six over the leg-side, following up with a thick-edge for four.
Having pulled away with lightning flashing as Broad ran in, McCullum next hammered a full toss back down the ground for a maximum that took him to 16 not out in just six balls and put his side ahead of the rate.
Two more deliveries were possible before the covers were hurried on, New Zealand further extending their advantage as Kane Williamson (24no) took five runs off Chris Jordan.
For all New Zealand - and McCullum - seized the moment, it was tough on the likes of Moeen Ali (36), Michael Lumb (33) and Jos Buttler (32), who each contributed to a strong target.
England's innings began poorly as opener Alex Hales, recently rated the best T20 batsman in the world, continued a run of low scores with a second-ball duck.
A leading edge off Kyle Mills did the damage, though not without the help of a fine one-handed catch by Corey Anderson.
Moeen ensured that was quickly forgotten in Mills' second over, hitting two boundaries in the 'V' either side of meaty onside six.
He greeted Tim Southee's arrival with back-to-back boundaries and Lumb got in on the fun when he powered a huge six over mid-wicket as the over went for 17.
The end of the six-over powerplay saw England in good shape on 66 for one, b ut they stuttered when both set batsmen fell in the space of six deliveries.
Anderson was involved in both dismissals, first persuading Moeen to pull straight to the waiting Mitch McClenaghan and then taking a smart sliding catch when Lumb slashed uppishly to third man.
Eoin Morgan contributed an underwhelming 12 but Buttler kept the momentum going with a spritely innings that included two of his trademark ramp shots against Southee in the 15th over.
Exactly half of his 32 had come in fours when he was surprisingly bowled by Anderson off the inside edge.
The innings might have veered badly off track had wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi held a simple catch to dismiss Ravi Bopara for seven but instead the unlucky Southee paid the price.
First Bopara and then Jordan launched him over the ropes making it another expensive visit.
England added 42 in the last four overs as Bopara reached 24no and Tim Bresnan a lively 17no.
As Martin Guptill and Williamson opened up for New Zealand, there was no suggestion it would be for such a brief chase.
Williamson was gifted an early boundary by Jordan's misfield but his next two, off Bresnan, could not be stopped.
Jade Dernbach struck back when he had Guptill caught from a mis-timed pull, but within moments thundercracks and lightning flashes arrived to disrupt proceedings.
As the groundsmen gathered on the boundary edge, a glance at the D/L sheets had New Zealand heading for defeat.
But McCullum's willingness to throw caution to the wind changed that as he won a decisive personal duel with his opposite number.
Despite hitting six and four from consecutive balls, the D/L scores were still tied after 4.5 overs but McCullum's sense of occasion kicked in as he lashed a Broad full toss back down the ground for a second mighty six.
The next ball, a loosener from Jordan, was bunted to the ropes by Williamson and, with rain imminent, England's fate was sealed.