New Zealand 128 for 6 (Devine 50) beat England 127 for 7 (Wyatt 35, Bouchier 25, Rowe 2-12) by four wickets
A half-century to Sophie Devine, the New Zealand captain playing her 100th T20I, helped set up a four-wicket victory for her side in their second meeting with England at Hove.
Devine smashed four sixes and two fours on the way to her score of 50 off 41 balls, having also taken two wickets as England were restricted to 127 for 7.
The hosts were missing captain Heather Knight for the second match in a row because of a hamstring injury and bowling spearhead Katherine Brunt, who pulled up sore after the series opener, which they won emphatically at Chelmsford on Wednesday night.
Hannah Rowe and Leigh Kasperek also claimed two wickets each for an unchanged but improved New Zealand fielding side as England lost key wickets early and lacked a truly standout performer with the bat.
Mady Villiers was excellent in the field to keep England's hopes alive, pulling off a wonderful direct hit to run out Suzie Bates and taking three more catches, including one off her own bowling as Devine's departure was followed by a wobble, but it wasn't enough as New Zealand levelled the series 1-1 with one match remaining.
It was a welcome return to form for Devine, playing just her second match since taking a mental health break in March. Out for 2 in the first match, where she also put down three chances in what she described as a "rusty" New Zealand performance, she responded by dismissing the dangerous Nat Sciver and Amy Jones with consecutive balls to put a massive dent in England's line-up.
Sciver faced six deliveries before getting off the mark with a four off Devine through fine leg but was out next ball when she skied a catch to Rowe, who did well running round from deep backward square. Jones then spooned the next delivery to Thamsyn Newton at cover to be out for a duck with England 25 for 3 in the fifth over, Jess Kerr having produced a beautiful inswinger to account for Tammy Beaumont, who could not match her crucial 97 from the first game.
But it was Devine's influence with the bat that proved most critical. She sent Freya Davies high over deep square leg for her first six before heaving Tash Farrant over deep backward square and then twice finding the roof of the hospitality boxes at deep midwicket off Sciver and Sarah Glenn to complete her collection of maximums.
Having been dropped by Glenn at short fine leg off Sophie Ecclestone when on 25, she brought up her fifty chipping Davies over a leaping mid-off for four. She fell a short time later, well caught by Villiers running in and diving from cow corner after mistiming Farrant's knuckle ball, by which time New Zealand were 100 for 3 and well within reach of the target.
Bouchier dons her cap
Knight's absence meant an international debut for Maia Bouchier, who had to wait for her chance having been ruled out of consideration for the first match due to Covid-19 protocols. Unlike Emma Lamb, who earned her maiden cap on Wednesday without facing or bowling a ball, Bouchier was called upon to do a job when Sophia Dunkley fell to a return catch by Kasperek for 21, leaving England 61 for 4.
With her Southern Vipers and Brave team-mate Danni Wyatt at the other end, the pair set about rebuilding England, Wyatt slapping Hayley Jensen over mid-off for four and Bouchier getting in on the act, clipping Kasperek neatly off her pads to the square leg rope. Bouchier struck two more boundaries - an exquisitely timed cut through point off Amy Satterthwaite and a lofted drive off Jensen over extra cover - interspersed by a couple of nervous moments while attempting some risky running. The duo managed to put on 44 runs together before Wyatt was comfortably caught by Kerr at short third off Rowe. Two balls later, Bouchier fell edging Rowe to keeper Katey Martin for 25 off 24 balls, the third-highest score on T20I debut for England Women.
Villiers holds on
Offspinner Villiers has struggled to make an impact with the ball of late. Used sparingly in three T20Is against India, where she took one wicket in five overs, she claimed six wickets for the champions, Oval Invincibles, in the Hundred at 27.16. She had 1 for 17 from her two overs in the opening match against New Zealand and here her only over yielded 1 for 8 but she proved her worth in the field.
Following Villiers' run-out of Bates, Davies took out Amy Satterthwaite's off stump to remove another key threat. Then Villiers took a flying catch to dismiss Devine, and England surely felt they were in with some sort of chance. She then held a sharp return catch to remove Maddy Green and plucked another from above her head just inside the long-on boundary to send back Brooke Halliday off the bowling of Glenn. New Zealand had lost 3 for 15 in the space of 17 balls, and the pressure was beginning to mount. Ultimately it wasn't enough to turn things around for the hosts but Villiers did what she could.