England beats NZ by 7 wickets to level ODI series at 2-2
Nottingham: Eoin Morgan spearheaded a fearless attacking display as England breezed to a run chase of 350 to beat New Zealand by seven wickets on Wednesday and level their one-day international series at 2-2.
The victory — with six overs to spare — sets up a series decider at Chester-le-Street on Saturday.The captain Morgan hit 113 runs, including a 73-ball hundred, in a record third-wicket stand of 198 with Joe Root (106 not out) at Trent Bridge.
"It's more the carefree attitude, the guys are pretty relaxed in the dressing room," Morgan said.
England exceeded by 45 runs its previous highest total to win batting second — a major achievement for a team that has more often been an also-ran in this format. It was the joint fourth-highest run chase of all time.
"I was confident with 350 on the board," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said. "When you get 350 on the board you give yourselves every opportunity but we weren't good enough."
McCullum recognized that Morgan "is in the form of his life."He is leading the team really well," McCullum said of his rival captain.Morgan had assistance — most significantly from Alex Hales with a wonderful 67 from 38 balls on his home ground, and then Root.
Collectively, in this day-night fixture, England put notable opponents such as Kane Williamson (90), Martin Guptill (53) and Grant Elliott (55no) in the shade.
The prolific Williamson, and brutal late hitting from Elliott and Mitchell Santner, appeared to present England with a major challenge.Williamson (90) once again combined to great effect with Ross Taylor either side of Guptill and Elliott's half centuries.
McCullum, who chose to bat on a quick pitch under cloud cover, is yet to click at the top of the order in this series — and once again he went short of 50.McCullum escaped when Jos Buttler could not hold an inside edge off Mark Wood only to go caught-behind anyway in the same bowler's next over to end an opening stand of 88.
Guptill went after a brilliant outfield catch by Steven Finn, who ran 40 yards from mid-on to deep midwicket to hold a skier at full stretch.
Williamson and Taylor added to their prolific gains together already in the series. They had just brought up their third successive century stand when Taylor missed a mow across a full ball from Finn and was lbw.
After a paltry 23 for one had come in powerplay, Williamson found mid-on off David Willey — having hit 12 fours and a six off 70 balls.
But Elliott's 45-ball half-century, and then Santner's 44 off 19 balls — including four leg-side sixes in one Adil Rashid over — meant England's fightback with the ball was short-lived.
Hales made sure it gathered pace again immediately when England batted. There were seven fours and four sixes in his demonstration of precision hitting against the new ball, and it was a surprise that he should then fall to an ugly shot — aiming to leg, as he had often, but this time edging Matt Henry on to middle-stump.
Even after Jason Roy went to a blistering catch at cover by Williamson also off Henry — following the century opening stand — Morgan and Root had time to pick off the four balls rather than try to make instant boundary opportunities that were not there.
Root still needed a little luck, on nine, when Taylor never sighted a sharp catch at slip off Mitchell McClenaghan.If Morgan played a single false shot, it was on 66 when he mistimed a pick-up high into the leg-side off Henry but just safe between two boundary fielders.
By the time he accelerated to triple figures, with his fifth six over long-on off Henry to add to 11 fours, England had reached a position from which it was no longer possible to envisage defeat.
Morgan eventually holed out at long-leg. But there was to be no late stumble, Root completing his century from 94 balls.