The pitch for the T20 match at the same venue 10 days ago was widely panned for its unconventional appearance and it went OK. This pitch had no adverse build-up, yet played a large part in the ODI.
This was an ODI that was at its best when being played like a test match, and it had a T20 finish.
The opening 10 overs seemed a bit like the World Cup game between these two sides in 2015 in terms of the ball’s dominance of proceedings
After the third wicket fell the traditional accumulation phase was replaced by a frustration phase.
From the city end there was the full range of deliveries that spat up from a length or stayed very low. The only consistency was when the uneven bounce occurred a piece of the pitch would come loose.
Ben Stokes’s unsponsored bat then wanted to get in on the action, with a big chunk of it flying off as he clamped down on a ball that skidded through.
But Root and Stokes stuck to their task; their 71 run partnership was rarely a thing of beauty, but they showed their experience in playing out de Grandhomme, and getting what they could. It was the sort of graft missing later in the evening
But in the best ebb and flow traditions of ODIs both got out once they were settled. Those who followed all made handy little cameos before being dismissed just as they were starting to take the game away from New Zealand. There was no dramatic push in the last five overs and both teams probably felt a mix of satisfaction and frustration.
At the break nobody knew whether 234 was good enough or not.
New Zealand started well enough, and Colin Munro rode a fair amount of good fortune before settling down and playing 50 over cricket.
Then came a full hand of dismissals; a ripper of a catch from Stokes at cover, a brain explosion from Chapman, Latham and Nicholls playing all over turning ones early, and de Grandhomme deciding hitting sixes was the way to go even though the Required Run Rate was still just over 5 RPO.
From 80/1 and cruising the hosts now found themselves 103/6. Whatever the more violent form of ebb and flow is, this was it.
The spinners were on, and they were getting plenty of reward.
Then at last Williamson found help in the form of the strangely under-bowled Santner. By this stage Williamson was set. In itself that was a pleasing watch but it did emphasise the ridiculous profligacy of the middle order.
Just when the chase suddenly became reachable Santner was run out at the bowlers’ end. An unfortunate way to be dismissed for the first time in the series (149 runs). The flow had ebbed.
Once the tailenders were in Williamson became starved of the strike he needed. He did have time to bring up his 11th ODI century though; no other player in the match reached 50.
So it came down to that last over, with 15 runs required off Chris Woakes, who had been outstanding up until that point. The third ball got swatted for six and there was hope. But that last ball wide yorker showed just how good this England team is.
What might have been. Williamson seemed distraught in the end, but that was one hell of an innings.
And it was one hell of an ODI too. See; cricket matches on a challenging surface can be brilliant; even a Limited Overs one.