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Bairstow dazzles as England seals series

Wicketkeeper-batsman holds nerve with unbeaten 83 to pip New Zealand by three wickets in rain-hit final ODI

Bairstow dazzles as England seals series - Cricket News
Jonathan Bairstow, fittingly, scored the winnings runs.
This had all the makings of a classic. Two exponents of attacking cricket, a series precariously balanced at 2-2, and a bunch of men desperate not to lose. And, sure enough, it was something of a classic that turned out at the Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street on Saturday (June 19), a tightly contested encounter that kept viewers guessing till the last few balls.
After New Zealand posted 283 for 9, England’s chase was delayed substantially by rain, forcing its target to be revised to 192 from 26 overs. It seemed a straightforward chase, but there were some hiccups. England was surprised by Mitchell Santner’s left-arm spin – he ended with 3 for 31 in six overs, the maximum one bowler was allowed in the truncated chase – and was 45 for 5 at one point. 
But Jonathan Bairstow, in for the injured Jos Buttler, refused to budge. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit an unbeaten 60-ball 83 – after a reprieve from Santner on 56 – to seal a nervy three-wicket win via the D/L Method. 
For New Zealand, half-centuries from Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill helped steady the innings after losing Brendon McCullum early on. The two put on a 94-run stand, and a late cameo from Ben Wheeler, who scored a 28-ball 39, boosted their total to a fighting one. 

Santner’s three-wicket burst reduced England to 20 for 3 within four overs, and the target looked all the more formidable. Santner had Alex Hales dismissed in the second ball of the innings, thanks in no small part to Williamson, who held on to a stunning one-handed catch at square leg. He lured Joe Root so far out of the crease in the first ball of his next over, that Luke Ronchi managed to stump him despite fumbling his first attempt. And off the very next ball, Eoin Morgan tried a slog-sweep and holed out, and New Zealand was firmly in the driver’s seat.
Ben Stokes then attempted to bat England out of strife, taking Wheeler for consecutive fours, but then holed out to Brendon McCullum at mid-off. And when Andrew Mathieson had Jason Roy dismissed off his first ball on debut, England was in all sorts of trouble.
England was down, but it wasn't knocked out, not yet. Bairstow and Sam Billings exemplified the next-gen England side’s fighting attitude. The two had little time to settle in. They didn’t entirely adopt the gung-ho approach right from the off, but Billings placed Mathieson between fielders. At the other end, Bairstow targeted Tim Southee.
They went on to take 16 off a Grant Elliott over on the way, and the longer they stayed in the middle, the more it seemed England would be successful in its chase. They had put on an 80 important runs when another inspired bit of fielding had Billings walking back – Ross Taylor holding on to a stunner at short midwicket after he pulled Matt Henry.
Bairstow carried on, notching up a half-century in 45 balls even as Wheeler had David Willey dismissed at the other end. The match-turning moment, however, was when Bairstow received a let off, Santner fumbling and eventually dropping a catch in the deep. It proved costly. Wheeler’s next over was taken for 14 runs, and England needed just 17 from the last two overs, with Bairstow pulling Southee for an important four.

The first two balls off Mathieson’s next over were sent through the covers for four, Bairstow unrelenting in pursuit of victory. Rashid then backed away and glided one to the third man fence before Bairstow, fittingly, scored the winnings runs.
Earlier, Guptill gave the in-form Williamson company in the second over, and the need for keeping wickets intact wasn’t lost on them. They started slowly enough, picking runs through singles and doubles, but unfortunately for England, Williamson was in the middle of a purple patch that allowed him to shift gears with all the effort needed to graze sheep.
He put New Zealand on the move and soon brought up his half-century off 49 balls – his fourth consecutive fifty. However, he then dragged Ben Stokes onto his stumps to depart for a 65-ball 50. Thereafter, the runs weren’t as fluent as the batsmen would have liked. Guptill brought up his half-century, off 62 balls, putting on 49 with Ross Taylor, but wickets seemed just around the corner.
Stokes got the breakthrough once again, inducing an edge off Guptill that was safely taken by Bairstow. Santner followed suit soon after, and it was down to Elliott and Taylor to lead the recovery. The two kept England in check for the most part, Elliott caressing a couple of fours through the covers. They put on 55 for the fifth wicket, and looked good for more, but Elliott was stumped off Adil Rashid for a 36-ball 35. Taylor was caught behind in the next over off David Willey, and England soon began dismantling the tail.
However, out of nowhere, the young Wheeler swung his bat about to keep New Zealand in with a chance. He claimed 22 off the final over bowled by Steven Finn, but it wasn't enough in the end.

To see the full scorecard of the match, please click here.

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