New Zealand 398-5 England 365-9 report: Rain puts brakes on England's thrilling run chase

 

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The Independent Online

Who would be a bowler in limited-overs cricket? The men who undertake the hard labour cannot be having much fun. For the batsmen and spectators, though, it is thrilling stuff.

On a perfect batting pitch, 763 runs were scored in 96 overs of this rain-affected match. New Zealand levelled the five-game Royal London series after posting 398 for 5, the highest international 50-over total on this ground – but England were left cursing the Duckworth-Lewis method as New Zealand won by 13 runs.

The system is used to recalculate targets for the chasing side in games interrupted by weather. When the cloudburst sent the players to the pavilion at 8.21pm, England were 345 for 7, needing 54 runs from 6.1 overs, with Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid well established.

When they returned 45 minutes later, the target was far tougher: 34 from 13 deliveries, and New Zealand won by 13 runs.

England captain Eoin Morgan: “I don’t think anyone understands it [Duckworth-Lewis]. As the game evolves it’s certainly something that could be looked at.

“I’m a bit disappointed considering we got so close in the chase, but we are enjoying playing this brand of cricket.We have guys who are able to play their natural games.”

There was still time for drama after the rain as a stunning fielding combination between Trent Boult and Tim Southee on the boundary ended  Rashid’s innings.

England’s winning score of 408 for 9 at Edgbaston four days ago was their best in this form of the game. When Morgan and Jos Buttler put on 96 from 64 balls, their highest successful one-day chase also looked possible. Instead, Ross Taylor’s 119 from 96 deliveries in New Zealand’s innings was the vital contribution.

Taylor completed his half-century in 52 deliveries and survived two dropped chances. But to move from 50 to 100, he required just 35 more balls.

There were superb shots, notably the slog-sweep six off Rashid. Watching it hurtle into the crowd, it was remarkable to think that the first over of the game, bowled by Steven Finn, was a maiden.

It did not take long for the Edgbaston trend to take hold. Brendon McCullum took 20 from Chris Jordan’s third over. The New Zealand captain did not last much longer, caught attempting to pull Plunkett’s second ball for six, but life became no easier for Jordan.

The Sussex bowler leaked 97 runs from nine overs, equalling the unwanted record set by Steve Harmison in a one-day game against Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2006. He was then forced off with a side injury. A wicketless Rashid went for 72 from his 10. Plunkett, Finn and Ben Stokes were all taken for more than a run a ball.

Taylor led the charge with his century while Kane Williamson made 93, Martin Guptill 50, Grant Elliott 32 and Luke Ronchi 33.

Facing a huge total, New Zealand subsided at Edgbaston as England won by 210 runs, their record margin in this form of the game. How would Morgan’s inexperienced side respond to a similar challenge?

The early signs were worrying: Jason Roy was dropped by Nathan McCullum on seven and played a number of ill-judged strokes. Boult delivered 14 consecutive dot balls to Alex Hales and the tourists had their sights on a simple win.

Hales broke the spell with a 43-ball fifty but England lost Roy and Joe Root, who made just six, after Brendon McCullum brought on his spinners. When Hales was caught in the deep, England were 100 for 3 and Mitchell Santner had removed Root and Hales in three deliveries.

Once more, England started swinging. Riding their luck, Morgan and Stokes added 51 in only four overs to bring their team back into the contest. Stokes’ dismissal, caught behind off Mitchell McClenaghan, brought Buttler, the hero of Edgbaston, to the crease and England continued to accelerate.

As he was in Birmingham, Buttler was dropped – again by Taylor, this time at slip when the England vice-captain had 27 – but his presence seemed to inspire Morgan. One six off Nathan McCullum landed in a hospitality box at the Pavilion End and then, when Santner returned at the Vauxhall End, Morgan took 18 from one over.

At that stage, England looked as though they would cruise to their record target. Then Boult was brought back and New Zealand’s best bowler delivered, Buttler caught behind for 41 with his team still needing 140.

The story looked to have ended when Morgan, who had made a brilliant 88, picked out Grant Elliott on the cover boundary and Sam Billings followed soon afterwards.

Yet the punishment for the bowlers continued as Rashid and Plunkett set the chase back on track with a fifty stand from 36 deliveries. The pair reignited the innings, quickly adding 50 in 36 deliveries.

Plunkett was dropped on 16 and responded by smashing Southee’s next ball for six. He then lifted Santner into the stands at extra-cover. Rashid played his part, too, but the readjusted target proved beyond them.

Plunkett was caught in the deep then Rashid thought he had hit Nathan McCullum for six, only to watch Southee collect the ball and throw it back into play before his momentum carried him over the boundary. Boult completed the catch and New Zealand were as good as home.

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