Jonny Bairstow hits third-fastest England ODI century in seven-wicket demolition of New Zealand

England 229-3 (32.4 overs) beat New Zealand 223 (49.5 overs) by seven wickets

Chris Stocks
Christchurch
Saturday 10 March 2018 09:56
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Bairstow's century came in 58 balls
Bairstow's century came in 58 balls

Jonny Bairstow hit the third-fastest England ODI century to help Eoin Morgan’s team wrap up a ruthless seven-wicket demolition of New Zealand in this series decider at Hagley Oval.

Bairstow had made 138 in a losing cause in Dunedin four days previously, but his second successive century, this one coming in just 58 balls, anchored his side’s successful pursuit of 224.

Alex Hales, back in the team as an opener for the first time since last summer after Jason Roy was ruled out with a back spasm, also gave the selectors something to think about with a composed 61 from 74 deliveries as England cruised to their target with 17.2 overs to spare.

However, it was Bairstow, striking nine fours and six sixes during a brutal 60-ball knock, who stole the show.

Indeed, this was the fastest ODI century by an England opener and overall only Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali have got their quicker for their country in one-day cricket than the Yorkshireman, who accelerated from 50 to 100 in just 20 balls.

(Getty

Morgan’s men had thrown away the fourth ODI in Dunedin last Wednesday to set up this finale.

But if this was a litmus test to see how they might cope with the pressure of knockout matches when they host next year’s World Cup, England came through it with flying colours, dominating this contest from start to finish to wrap up a sixth successive ODI series win.

Indeed, after thrashing Australia 4-1 in January, this series success can now be added to wins in the past year against West Indies home and away, Ireland and South Africa.

"We’ve been working towards this for a while,” said coach Trevor Bayliss. “We’re 15 months from the World Cup and we are looking for those performances in one-off matches. It’s not easy but these guys are producing it more and more often and through that we will see even more consistency.”

Bairstow added: “We’d spoken many times about it being 2-2 in the series and this was a huge game. People had spoken about it and compared it to a knockout game potentially in the World Cup next year. We’d spoken about the last game and that wasn’t good enough from us. We know we needed to put in a clinical and ruthless performance and that’s exactly what we did.”

The only real blot on England’s record over the past year was last summer’s Champions Trophy semi-final defeat to Pakistan in Cardiff.

(Getty

Yet this result in a winner-takes-all contest can partly lay that ghost to rest.

It was in that semi-final Bairstow was given the chance to come into the team as a full-time opener.

Since then, though, his form has been extraordinary, Bairstow hitting four centuries and averaging 63.41.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Bairstow. “After being out of the side for a couple of years and getting the odd game here and there, to then come in in a role I’m still learning and to score hundreds is really pleasing.”

Morgan, playing in his 200th ODI, started the day well after winning only his second toss of this five-match series and asking a New Zealand team missing the injured Ross Taylor to bat.

Taylor had made a brilliant unbeaten 181 in Dunedin to level the series at 2-2 and set up this decider.

And his absence with the thigh problem he aggravated during that innings was a huge blow to the hosts.

England took a hold of this match early on, reducing their opponents to 93 for six in the 27th over.

An excellent opening six-over spell of one for 13 from Chris Woakes set the tone, the all-rounder having Colin Munro caught behind off just the third ball of the match.

Mark Wood then bowled home captain Kane Williamson as the hosts slipped to 26 for two in the tenth over before Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali tightened their team’s stranglehold with four wickets between them.

(Getty

Rashid’s figures of three for 42 were his best of the winter, the leg-spinner dismissing Tom Latham, Martin Guptill and Colin De Grandhomme, while Moeen bowled Mark Chapman for a duck.

New Zealand did rally thanks to a 84-run partnership between Mitchell Santner and Henry Nicholls, the former hitting a career-best 67 to finish the series with an average of 108 after his previous batting heroics in Hamilton, Mount Maunganui and Wellington.

A previously-out-of-form Nicholls made a restorative 50 before becoming Tom Curran’s first wicket.

Santner was finally snared by Woakes, though, late in the innings, the Warwickshire man also getting rid of Tim Southee thanks to a spectacular Bairstow catch on the boundary before Curran ended the innings with the scalp of Ish Sodhi.

The chase always looked a formality, especially when Bairstow and Hales got England’s total up to 100 inside 16 overs.

Bairstow had reached 50 in 38 balls but he decided to go for Sodhi, England’s destroyer in Dunedin, in the 18th over of the innings, taking the leg-spinner for 22 runs as he smashed three sixes in four balls.

Even when Bairstow departed in the 21st over, out hit wicket after cutting his own stumps, England were still in complete control, needing just 68 more for victory.

Hales reached his half-century in 67 balls before picking out Williamson at mid-wicket in the 24th over to give Santner a wicket.

England were now 177 for two, and needed just 32 when Morgan fell to a fine De Grandhomme catch in the deep off Sodhi.

But Joe Root, finishing with 23, and Ben Stokes, on 26 after clubbing the winning runs with a six off Sodhi, eased England to their target in just 32.4 overs.

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