Top-Order Batsmen Help England Level ODI Series
England 270-2 (Root 79no, Cook 78) beat
New Zealand 269 (Taylor 100) by 8 wickets
Second One-Day International, Napier
Report by Daniel Grummitt
England’s top-order batsmen comfortably overhauled New Zealand’s 269 to square the One-Day International series in Napier. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root all passed 50 as England chased down their target with 14 balls to spare.
Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum had helped the home side recover from a sluggish start, which had seen them drift to 143 for four after 36 overs, with a swashbuckling stand of 100 in less than 10 overs.
James Anderson and Steven Finn had both delivered economical and accurate opening spells, with Anderson getting rid of both openers cheaply on his way to figures of five for 34. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor then began the rebuild, but it didn’t happen quickly. Taylor’s fifty came up off 81 balls to end talk about his poor run of form since his sacking as captain.
It was then, alongside the man who replaced him as leader, that the complexion of the innings changed. McCullum, for the second match in succession, took advantage of his demotion in the batting order and charged to his fifty off just 26 balls.
Taylor’s second fifty took just 35 balls as England’s change bowlers were put under pressure. Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann all conceded more than a run a ball, although Broad did remove McCullum for 74 to end the carnage.
Anderson returned to mop up the innings and ended with five wickets for the second time in his ODI career.
It was then the turn of England’s oft-criticised top order to prove that they could in fact keep up with a required run rate of over five an over. Ian Bell and Alastair Cook began things in calm fashion and had taken the score to 89 by the time Bell was caught off Kane Williamson in the 20th over. Cook was then joined by Jonathan Trott and the two put on a further 60 in 12 overs. Cook was the man to go, caught and bowled by the returning Tim Southee for 78 off 92 balls.
Joe Root was the next man in and was the only one of the quartet to score at a strike rate of over 100. His unbeaten 79 off 56 balls, which included two sixes, ensured that England won with plenty of time to spare.
England’s successful run chase - their second highest ever against New Zealand - and the manner in which it was achieved should silence their critics, at least for the moment, and does vindicate their strategy of playing a top four consisting of Test-quality batsmen rather than one-day specialists as some have called for.
© Cricket World 2013
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