London: Brilliant half-centuries by Hamish Rutherford and Brendon McCullum set New Zealand on their way to a five-run victory over England on Tuesday in the first of two Twenty20 internationals at The Oval.
Rutherford (62 off 35 balls) and McCullum (68) put on a second-wicket stand of 114 to help the New Zealand post 201 for 4 - a record T20 score against England - under the floodlights in south London.
The hosts, looking to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss to India in the Champions Trophy final on Sunday, got off to a flyer in the chase and Luke Wright weighed in with 52 to leave them requiring 16 runs off the last over.
England fell just six runs short of a remarkable win as New Zealand took a 1-0 lead in the two-match T20 series.
Ben Stokes smashed a six off the first ball but he and Ravi Bopara (30 not out) couldn't find the boundary off the next five and New Zealand squeezed home.
"There was a lot of pressure towards the end and a lot of young lads came out of it really well," McCullum said. "It's small margins but it's great to come out of it on the winning side."
Fifteen sixes were hit in an entertaining game but England couldn't find the big hits when it mattered in the final over.
"We were only two blows away from winning the game," England captain Eoin Morgan said.
"It's not as frustrating as against India. That was an opportunity missed but this was a great effort and we can take a lot of positives."
The second and final T20 of the series is played on Thursday at the same venue, with England set to recall Kevin Pietersen after his return from a knee injury.
England have rested the majority of their test players for these T20s, with the Ashes series against Australia approaching.