WELLINGTON, Feb 20 (PTI): Brendon McCullum recorded the World Cup�s fastest fifty, off just 18 balls, after Tim Southee wreaked havoc with a seven-wicket haul as New Zealand cruised to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over England in a Pool A match of the quadrennial extravaganza here today.
Opting to bat after winning the toss at the Westpac Stadium, England were bowled out for a paltry 123 with fast bowler Southee returning figures of 7 for 33, the third best in World Cup history after Glenn McGrath and Andy Bichell.
In reply, New Zealand completed the formality in just 12.2 overs with McCullum blasting his way to a 25-ball 77, the batsman reaching his half-century in just 18 balls to set a new record in the showpiece event.
Skipper McCullum�s whirlwind half-century featured seven fours and four sixes as New Zealand chased down the modest target with ease. In all, he hit eight boundaries and seven sixes.
The opener eclipsed his own World Cup record when he smashed pacer Steven Finn for a six, having made a fifty off 20 balls against Canada in the 2007 edition in the West Indies.
His innings was also the equal third-fastest fifty in all One-day Internationals, behind South Africa�s A B de Villiers (16 balls) and Sri Lanka�s Sanath Jayasuriya (17 balls).
McCullum went on the rampage from the first ball and was especially severe on Finn, who was smashed for 49 runs in two overs.
McCullum had only three singles in the entire innings with the remaining 74 coming in boundaries. His assault included four consecutive sixes off Finn, which saw him reach the milestone.
McCullum plundered Finn for 44 runs from his 10 balls, which included two fours and six sixes.
He was finally dismissed by Chris Woakes after playing a sensational knock that came at a staggering strike rate of 308.00. This was McCullum�s 29th ODI half century in 243 matches.
Earlier, Southee produced one of the best World Cup spells to help New Zealand bowl out England for a paltry total.
The 26-year-old pacer, whose previous best in ODIs was 5/33, bowled Ian Bell and Mooen Ali with just 36 runs on the board as England found the going tough from the very beginning.
Trent Boult, Adam Milne and the experienced Daniel Vettori joined the party to leave England reeling at 104 for four in the 26th over.
After that Southee returned to clean up the visiting side�s lower order in a jiffy to give the co-hosts a real chance of recording their second successive match in the 11th edition of the mega-event.
Batting at number four position, only Joe Root tried to show some fight as he top-scored with a painstaking 46 off 70 balls, which included three hits to fence, before he was dismissed by Milne.
Opener Ali was the next best scorer with 20, while skipper Eoin Morgan made only 17 in what was a disastrous showing by the English outfit against the Southee-led inspired New Zealand attack.
While none of the top-order batsmen impressed, the lower-order, as expected, too crumbled in the face of New Zealand pacers� relentless aggression.
The English side could bat only 33.2 overs, giving ample evidence of their inept batting display on a wicket that had something for the quicker bowlers.
Besides Southee, who returned very impressive figures of 7/33 in nine overs, the other wicket-takers for New Zealand were Boult, Milne and Vettori.
England: Bell b Southee 8, Ali b Southee 20, Ballance c Williamson b Boult 10, Root c Vettori b Milne 46, Morgan c Milne b Vettori 17, Taylor b Southee 0, Butler c Ronchi b Southee 3, Woakes b Southee 1, Broad c Vettori b Southee 4, Finn c Taylor b Southee 0, Anderson not out 1; Extras: (LB-6, W-7) 13; Total: (all out in 33.2 overs) 123; Fall of wickets: 1-18, 2-36, 3-57, 4-104, 5-104, 6-108, 7-110, 8-116, 9-117; Bowling: Southee 9-0-33-7, Boult 10-2-32-1, Milne 5.2-1-25-1, Vettori 7-0-19-1, Anderson 2-0-8-0.
New Zealand: MJ Guptill b Woakes 22, BB McCullum b Woakes 77, KS Williamson not out 9, LRPL Taylor not out 5. Extras: (lb 4, w 8) 12. Total: (2 wickets; 12.2 overs) 125. Fall of wickets: 1-105, 2-112. Bowling: JM Anderson 5-0-37-0, SCJ Broad 2.2-0-27-0, ST Finn 2-0-49-0, CR Woakes 3-1-8-2.