Captain Brendon McCullum played one of the most important six-ball knocks of his career to lead New Zealand to a nine-run win over England via the Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-marred World Twenty20 match.

Chasing 173 for victory in Bangladesh, McCullum hit two sixes off rival skipper Stuart Broad in the fifth over before the heavens opened and his team were left on 52 for one after 5.2 overs.

No further cricket was possible and because Duckworth-Lewis only comes into play in Twenty20 when five overs are bowled by each team, the Kiwi's innings proved vital.

England had good reason to feel unlucky after Moeen Ali and Michael Lumb featured in a 72-run stand for the second wicket and, down the order, Jos Buttler chipped in with a cheeky cameo to help them to 172 for six at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.

"We are obviously disappointed we finished up losing but you can't do a huge amount with the weather," said Broad in a pitchside interview.

"Definitely we should have come off for the lightning (four balls earlier). It's a game of cricket, you can't put players' safety in danger.

"We had a batsman pull away because the lightning flashed before his eyes," added Broad.

New Zealand lost opener Martin Guptill for 11 in the third over but McCullum greeted Broad's arrival with two sixes and a four in the all-rounder's opening over.

McCullum finished 16 not out off six balls while Kane Williamson was unbeaten on 24.

"The game was evenly poised," McCullum said. "It's frustrating to finish like that. I think both teams will be pleased with their performances."

Earlier, England were put into bat and lost Alex Hales to the third delivery of the match when Corey Anderson leapt back to take a stunning one-handed catch at mid-off.

Moeen (36) and Lumb (33) then scored freely as the New Zealand bowlers fed them a diet of short deliveries.

The bearded Moeen struck Kyle Mills for two fours and a pulled six in the same over and then welcomed Tim Southee to the attack with back-to-back fours.

Anderson came to the rescue again by dismissing Moeen but not before he and Lumb had made hay in the space of 7.2 overs.

Three runs later Lumb fell to Mitchell McClenaghan and Anderson was again in the thick of the action, taking a brilliant diving catch at third man.

Buttler contributed 32 while Tim Bresnan (17 not out) hit two fours and a six in an eight-ball stay.