Ross Taylor was thrilled to produce one of the best innings of his career against England but jokingly bemoaned the fact that his possible inclusion in the deciding one-day international will prevent him from toasting his birthday.

Taylor scored a stunning unbeaten 181 off 147 balls as the hosts successfully chased down a target of 336 to square the five-match series at 2-2.

Jonny Bairstow (138) and Joe Root (102) each scored centuries for England but their efforts proved in vain as Taylor blasted 17 fours and six maximums, Henry Nicholls (13 off 12) helping him finish the job.

Captain Kane Williamson (45 off 48), Tom Latham (71 off 67) and Colin de Grandhomme (23 off 12) also made key contributions, but it was Taylor who was the undoubted star of the show.

He battled on despite suffering a recurrence of the thigh injury that kept him out of the third ODI, scoring his second ton of the series following a hundred in the opening match in Hamilton.

Taylor said: "[This innings is] right up there [among my best], I think. It was nice to be there at the end. I thought I batted quite well in Hamilton, but I wasn't there at the end. Got a bit of cramp. It was good to have all those partnerships.

"You've just got to give yourself a chance, set those little goals along the way. You can't win it in the first 10 overs, but you certainly can lose it.

"It looked like England would get 360-380 at one stage, so our bowlers did well to keep them down. I was about 110 or 120, physio came out and asked if I wanted to stay in or come out. I'm glad I stayed in.

"I couldn't run any twos, so I didn't want to put any pressure on the other guy. So I had a go, and hit a couple out of the screws. The way Nicholls batted and finished it off - you don't want to panic in that situation."

Taylor turns 34 on Friday but, should he be fit enough to play in Saturday's fifth and final ODI, he will have to put any celebrations on hold.

He added: "It's my birthday tomorrow, and I was like, "damn it, I can't drink tomorrow." I've got a nice bottle of red, but if I have any chance of playing [the fifth ODI], I can't drink any of it tomorrow."