Eoin Morgan hailed England’s fringe players after they sealed a 3-2 Twenty20 series victory over New Zealand in Auckland – but only after another Super Over between the teams.
Four months on from their suspenseful World Cup final at Lord’s, England and New Zealand were once again at a stalemate inside Eden Park after finishing level on 146 from 11 overs, shortened because of rain.
Boundary countback was all that determined England’s first 50-over global title in July but there was to be little of that drama on the other side of the world as Morgan’s men prevailed by nine runs in the six-ball shootout.
Asked whether he foresaw another Super Over against the Black Caps, Morgan replied: “No, not at all. I definitely thought there was going to be a result in an 11-over game.
“I thought we’d either chase it down or we’d get beaten quite comfortably.
“The fact it went down to the wire indicates how the guys applied themselves and the level of skill they produced to get close. It was brilliant again and another step forward for us as a group.”
Chris Jordan was ultimately the headline act for England on Sunday, scoring 12 from the last three deliveries, including four from the final one, to draw the tourists level.
After Jonny Bairstow and Morgan had both bludgeoned sixes to lift England to 17 in their Super Over, Jordan bowled with plenty of guile to restrict New Zealand to eight for one in their reply.
Jordan may already be an accomplished T20 performer for England but this tour has seen them blood six fresh faces – and Morgan believes they have put pressure on the more established stars rested from the series.
With the start of the T20 World Cup less than 12 months away, Morgan said: “It creates a really good headache for us when it comes to selection.
“We are further ahead than we thought and the guys on this tour who will probably miss out on South Africa (at the beginning of next year) have raised that benchmark for guys who come back in.
“They are now almost expected to score runs and expected to do well because of opportunities given and taken by these guys.”
Jordan was entrusted with bowling the Super Over when England beat Pakistan in Sharjah four years ago, an experience which the 31-year-old feels relieved the pressure on his shoulders this time around.
Asked whether he felt Bairstow and Morgan had given him enough to defend, Jordan responded: “It needed to be enough. Drawing on that experience from doing it before helped out.
“It was a brilliant team performance and even as the game was coming down to the wire I just tried to be as calm as possible and try and see ball, hit ball. It was great to get a series win.”
New Zealand were congratulated for their sportsmanship and graciousness in defeat at the World Cup, with captain Kane Williamson in particular receiving many plaudits.
Williamson has missed this series because of a hip injury – he remains hopeful of being fit for the first Test between the teams later this month – but stand-in Tim Southee was equally magnanimous here.
At the end of a day in which intermittent showers led to a two-hour delayed start – and a truncated encounter – Southee quipped: “Hopefully it will be third time lucky if there’s another one.
“I guess it’s a bit of a bizarre day – we were probably 15-20 minutes away from no cricket and then we had plenty of entertainment and another Super Over.
“It would have been nice to have been on the right side of it but England were too good in the end.
“We obviously wanted to win the series and in the end we just weren’t quite good enough.”
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