Saturday 21 June 2008 

New Zealand Hold Their Nerve To Level Series

New Zealand survived falling to 49 for five to bounce back and beat England by 22 runs in the third One Day International at Bristol and level the NatWest series 1-1 with two to play.

New Zealand relied on a restorative innings from Grant Elliot and an explosive one late on from man of the match Kyle Mills as they were bowled out for 182 with Stuart Broad leading England's charge. Tim Southee then took four for 38 as England were shot out for 160 in a thrilling match.

England were soon put on the back foot when Mills, who had earlier scored a career-best of 47, accounted for Luke Wright (two) and Kevin Pietersen (four) to reduced England to 19 for two before Ian Bell (20) and Ravi Bopara (27) looked to be guiding England out of trouble, adding 43 for the third wicket before things started to go wrong.

Not so, as from 62 for two, England collapsed to 64 for six as Bell was caught by Brendon McCullum off of Elliot before Tim Southee struck thrice in quick time, Bopara, Owais Shah (nought) and Tim Ambrose (nought) offering catching practice for Jamie How, Scott Styris and Ross Taylor backward of square.

Bopara perished to a good catch by How in the gully but Shah and Ambrose were guilty, as was Wright early on, of pushing at balls outside of the off stump that could have been left alone with the ball moving from leg to off.

Pietersen and Bell were caught at cover and midwicket respectively and neither will be in a hurry to rehearse the strokes they played.

Paul Collingwood and Graeme Swann came together and started to haul their side back into the game, Collingwood quick to latch onto anything short and Swann enjoying a personal duel with Vettori, sweeping effectively as well as driving a free hit for four straight down the ground.

England passed a hundred in the 29th over, some seven overs quicker than New Zealand managed. The pair then passed a half-century stand which was ended when Swann chipped Styris to Taylor at midwicket, an almost identical dismissal to Pietersen's, but the Nottinghamshire man had made 29 out of 65 shared with Collingwood.

His dismissal left England still needing 54 to win but with three wickets remaining and plenty of time. That was reduced to 31 runs with two wickets when Collingwood was trapped in front by man of the moment Southee for a gutsy 34 from 80 balls.

The 19-year-old bowled beautifully, becoming the youngest New Zealander behind his captain Vettori to take four wickets in a One Day International.

Stuart Broad was shortly after brilliantly caught down the leg side by Gareth Hopkins off of Vettori for 17 leaving last pair Chris Tremlett and James Anderson with 23 more runs to get and New Zealand favourites to win for possibly the first time in the match.

They could not add a run together, Tremlett caught by Vettori as he tried a big shot off of Elliot, whose swift introduction to the side looks the best decision the Black Caps made all summer. The South African-born all-rounder finished with two for nine and Mills two for 42.

Earlier, career-best scores of 56 and 47 from Elliott and Mills boosted New Zealand to a score of 182 all out.

England's seam bowlers had put them in charge with New Zealand in trouble at 42 for four and 110 for seven before Elliott and Mills added 54 for the eighth wicket to frustrate England.

From the off Anderson, Broad and recalled Tremlett made good use of overcast conditions, with Anderson picking up the vital wicket of McCullum for 17.

The explosive wicket-keeper had already hit Anderson for a six and a four before he picked out Pietersen at a slightly deeper than normal mid-off for 17.

The bowlers continued to build up the pressure, and it was rewarded when How (ten) was bowled by Broad via an inside edge, Styris gloved Tremlett to Ambrose for four and Taylor (eight) was bowled by Broad trying an expansive drive.

He had tried a few, but even those which he managed to hit found only England's fielders who were in electric form. Only Styris, when offered a rare half-volley from Broad, beat the off-side field, the ball scurrying away to the fence before Tremlett got one to spit at him from back of a length.

McCullum had taken 16 runs from Anderson before being dismissed but no other New Zealand batsman was coming to terms with difficult conditions. Broad bowled beautifully, so well in fact that he was allowed to bowl his ten overs straight through, returning two for 14.

New Zealand's difficulties were summed up when Daniel Flynn lofted a juicy full toss straight to Tremlett to give Anderson his second wicket, the left-hander departing for two having faced 26 balls.

Almost as slow was Gareth Hopkins, whose innings of seven from 24 balls was ended when he picked out substitute William Porterfield, the captain of Ireland on the field for England in place of Shah, with Collingwood the bowler.

Elliot cut Wright for a rare boundary before Daniel Vettori on drove Collingwood sweetly for the same result but New Zealand were left with an awful lot of work still to do, all the more so when Vettori meekly chipped Swann to Shah for 18, but a couple of dropped catches and some sloppy fielding from England helped the away team's cause.

That though, set the stage for Elliott and Mills, who began by quietly accumulating - Elliott's maiden ODI half-century contained just two fours before Mills smashed five fours and two sixes in his 47 from 40 balls.

In all, Elliot faced 102 deliveries and his innings held New Zealand together before Mills applied the finishing touches that gave him and his fellow bowlers enough to bowl at.

He was the last man to fall from the last ball of the innings as England's preferred death bowler Wright finished with two for 34 while Anderson, took three for 61 as Tremlett enjoyed his return with one for 24.

New Zealand made a change to their bowling ranks, Mark Gillespie replacing Michael Mason with Tremlett in for England in place of Dimitri Mascarenhas.

John Pennington
© Cricket World 2008