In the third installment of the thrilling five match ODI series between England and New Zealand, the Black Caps pulled off a satisfying victory to take a 2-1 lead after beating England by three wickets with just one over to spare.
England won the toss and elected to bat, quickly getting themselves into a similar position that had catapulted them to daunting totals in the previous games. Despite knocks from captain Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes and Joe Root that saw them all reach yet another half century, England quickly collapsed and ended up being bowled out for 302 with just over five overs remaining in their innings.
Tim Southee was the star with the ball for the Kiwis, something that he needed to do as the outright senior bowler in the squad, finishing the day off with bowling figures of 3-44.
It would be those final five overs that would come back to haunt the English, not to mention a very average performance in the field as they looked to bowl to a very determined New Zealand squad.
The Black Caps’ run chase started off less than ideal and soon they found themselves on the back foot at 36-2 a lot quicker than they would have hoped for.
True to form though, Ross Taylor (ending on 110) and Kane Williamson (ending on 118) made their partnership become the telling factor in their teams overall victory, along with the extra lives they each received after both were dropped in the field.
In fact, Williamson was dropped twice after reaching his century while Taylor received three chances to continue his innings before finally being bowled by David Willey.
Their 121-run partnership not only saw both reach yet another century (Taylor’s second in as many games); their stand also became the new record for the third-wicket partnership in all ODI cricket, breaking the previous record which stood from 1994.
Although victorious, the Black Caps can be criticised for becoming somewhat complacent at the back of their innings. After losing a couple of late wickets, England were able to rack up a chunk of dot balls that could have cost New Zealand the game.
It took Tim Southee to hit a four off the final ball of Ben Stokes’ final over to push his team to victory with six balls to spare.
For the first time this series, New Zealand seem to have found an effective bowling attack to take on the English line-up, despite the continuing threat of Trent Boult being noticeably absent.
Boult joined Corey Anderson on the injury list as both are now on their way home due to back injuries.
Debutant Ben Wheeler, a left-arm pace man (who fittingly received his cap from Boult before the start of the match) proved to be a vital cog in the bowling attack taking 3-63, picking up danger man Ben Stokes in his bag of wickets.
The 23-year-old managed good pace, was able to swing the ball and did not shy away from bowling the short ball or a good Yorker. His performance will be a welcomed relief as the extent of Boult’s injury is still unclear.
It seems the crop of young bowlers, particularly left-arm bowlers, coming out of New Zealand is getting better and better each season.
While both Boult and Anderson are major blows to the team and spectators alike, New Zealand’s latest performance has reassured fans worldwide that the players coming in to replace them are more than capable of filling the gaps.