England score freely at Eden Park in first Twenty20 against New Zealand

 

Eden Park

England cashed in on the curious dimensions of Eden Park to pile up a record-breaking 214 for seven in the first Twenty20 against New Zealand.

At a ground with little more than a 60-yard carry at either end, England targeted the straight boundaries in particular but thrashed plenty of other maximums to all parts, clearing the ropes 15 times - four more than they ever have before - and easily surpassing their previous highest Twenty20 score of 202 for six.

Luke Wright topped the sixes charts with four, and Eoin Morgan came closest to a half-century with 46 in an innings which saw everyone bar number seven Samit Patel achieve better than a run-a-ball.

Alex Hales soon announced England's intent, after being put into bat in this opening match of three, with their first six high over deep midwicket off Trent Boult in the second over.

Boult and his fellow left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan found some early swing, but it was still hard work to contain the batsmen.

Hales greeted the introduction of Ronnie Hira's left-arm spin with a brutal four crunched past mid-on.

But up the wicket to try to repeat the dose next ball, the opener missed one that drifted into him and was easily stumped.

It did not take long for number three Wright to upstage Hales' strike rate - and after finding his range against McClenaghan, he set the tone with a six over extra-cover for a second over from Hira which cost 21 runs.

Michael Lumb had only three, from just six balls faced, in England's first 50 runs. But he joined in with a swept four and straight six off Hira.

Ross Taylor, back for his first international match since being relieved of the New Zealand captaincy and then sitting out the tour of South Africa, was the darling of a crowd who had cheered wildly at the announcement of his name after the toss.

But he did nothing to endear himself further when he dropped Wright at cover off Nathan McCullum and then Lumb when he skied Andrew Ellis to deep midwicket.

Fortunately for Taylor, neither miss was costly - an aggregate 17 runs, before Wright was caught in the leg-side deep off Ellis and then Lumb miscued an attempted hook at McClenaghan to short fine-leg.

New Zealand were not helping themselves in the field, though.

Hira dropped Jonny Bairstow on 22 off Ellis, but the most obvious chance fell to McClenaghan who appeared not to sight one properly at short third-man when he put down Morgan on 33 off McCullum.

The combined cost for the Kiwis' third and fourth drops was 29 runs, Morgan miscuing Hira into the off-side to give Taylor an unmissable opportunity and Bairstow unable to clear Martin Guptill at long-on off Boult.

Jos Buttler nonetheless ensured England surged past 200 and beyond.

PA

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