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With some pressure on England the two teams headed to Napier where just over ten years earlier England and New Zealand played out the famous tied ODI in 2008. The ground since then has gone under some redevelopment but the short square boundaries still remained and under lights a high scoring match was expected.
For the first time in the series England were batting first and their new opening partnership of Bairstow and Banton were starting things off. Bairstow’s stay at the crease ended when he flung a loosener from Santner out to the fielder on the boundary and Banton soon followed after a few lusty blows.
England’s start appeared to be fairly stop-start as they looked to be behind if the par score was around 180. Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan however started to find the boundaries and bat a lot better than at any other point in the series. They targeted the shorter boundaries when trying to hits sixes and expertly pieced the field along the outfield for the longer boundaries. The spinner Sodhi in particular took some punishment going for 49 of just three overs as he was repeatedly planted into the stands.
New Zealand didn’t help themselves as they twice took wickets of deliveries that were deemed no balls by the third umpire for being above waist height. Over and over again they missed their death bowling lengths and were rightfully punished by two class international batsmen as records tumbled in Napier.
Malan towards the back end of the innings completed the fastest T20 hundred by an England player knocking Alex Hales of the top spot and a disastrous 19th over from Daryl Mitchell went 25 which pushed the score beyond England’s highest ever team score. Eventually the hosts were put out of their misery and the crowd were given some respite from the raining cricket balls as England finished on 241-3.
At the halfway stage New Zealand were probably out of the game already but credit to them their openers did start positively and put the bowlers under pressure. Chasing a large target as they were can perhaps free a batsman up and help them to think clearly about what shot to play and that certainly appeared to be happening for Martin Guptill.
The middle part of the innings though England definitely won and every time the Kiwi’s looked like putting together a substantial partnership they were pegged back especially by Matt Parkinson. The harder the batsmen swung at the ball the slower he bowled it with great reward as he claimed four wickets. There was a slight moment when Tim Southee connected with a few that England began to look a little ragged with a couple of drop catches and fumbles in the field.
The experienced Chris Jordan put England’s previous couple of overs to one side and displayed his talent as a T20 international death bowler and finished of the game for England by a comfortable margin.
This will come as some relief to Morgan whose side put in some fairly average displays over the previous two games but looked somewhere near their best today. The team mantra of always backing yourself to be positive that has brought them this far over the last four years was in full affect with the batting of Dawid Malan and the young leg-spinner in Parkinson.
All eyes therefore will be on Auckland on Sunday morning as the final match of the series is now a winner takes all. Thoughts about what England’s priorities are in the series will become evident in whether they want to put winning over giving experience to the younger members of the squad. Still New Zealand will probably be glad that the final match can’t be decided by a boundary count.
|T Banton||lbw b Santner||31||20||4||1|
|J M Bairstow||c Mitchell b Santner||8||9||1||0|
|D J Malan||103||51||9||6|
|E J G Morgan||c Mitchell b Southee||91||41||7||7|
|S W Billings||0||1||0||0|
|Extras||1b 2lb 0 3w 2nb||8|
|Total||for 3||241||20.0 overs|
|T A Boult||4||0||35||0|
|T G Southee||4||0||47||1|
|M J Santner||4||0||32||2|
|B M Tickner||4||0||50||0|
|I S Sodhi||3||0||49||0|
|D J Mitchell||1||0||25||0|
|M J Guptill||c Malan b Curran||27||14||1||3|
|C Munro||c Brown b Parkinson||30||21||3||0|
|T L Seifert||c Curran b Jordan||3||4||0||0|
|C de Grandhomme||c Banton b Parkinson||7||3||0||1|
|L R P L Taylor||c Banton b Brown||14||10||0||1|
|D J Mitchell||c Jordan b Parkinson||2||5||0||0|
|M J Santner||c Billings b Curran||10||8||1||0|
|T G Southee||lbw b Parkinson||39||15||2||4|
|I S Sodhi||Run Out Jordan||9||7||0||1|
|T A Boult||b Jordan||8||8||1||0|
|B M Tickner||5||6||0||0|
|Extras||3lb 0 8w||11|
|Total||for 10||165||16.5 overs|
|S M Curran||4||0||36||1|
|T K Curran||3||0||26||1|
|C J Jordan||2||0||24||2|
|M W Parkinson||4||0||47||4|
|P R Brown||3||0||29||1|
Man of the match, Dawid Malan
England won by 76 runs