England rode on an outstanding all-round effort to level the series and will back their chances of grabbing the crucial lead in the third game.
New Zealand v England
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Saturday 3 March; 14:00 local, 01:00 GMT
It’s all even with everything to play for ahead of the crucial third one-day international between New Zealand and England in Wellington.
New Zealand won a thriller of a first game by three wickets with just four balls in hand as Mitchell Santner made the difference with some big hitting at the close. Though Santner did his bit again in the second game, it was a poor performance from New Zealand on the whole, and quite the opposite from England – especially on the field – that gave the visiting side a six-wicket win.
For New Zealand, the bad news is that Ross Taylor has been ruled out of the contest because of the quad injury he picked up in the second game. Taylor played Adil Rashid square on the off-side, set off for a run, and then had to try and scamper back as David Willey pulled off a stunning piece of fielding at backward point. He couldn’t, doing his quad in the process, and it was the first of four run outs in the New Zealand innings and one of many outstanding efforts by the English fielders. Taylor’s fitness will be assessed before the fourth ODI, a Cricket New Zealand statement said.
The good news is that Kane Williamson, who missed that game with a hamstring injury, has been passed fit to play, and should provide the solidity around the stroke players in collaboration with Martin Guptill. Williamson has been well below his best in recent times, but Taylor was chugging along nicely. In fact, it was his 113 in the first ODI that set the platform for Santner’s blitz as New Zealand chased down 285.
The performance of the English on the field will be on the mind of both teams. Eoin Morgan, the England captain who scored a 63-ball 62 in England’s successful chase of 224, lavished praise on the fielders, saying, “This was as good a fielding performance that we could have hoped for,” while Trent Boult, last man out for New Zealand and the fourth to be run out, called the run outs “the elephant in the room”.
The series is level, but England might well have a little more confidence and momentum coming into the third game, and part of the reason is also the form of Ben Stokes. Back in the side after a long layoff for non-cricketing reasons, Stokes was a bit rusty with the bat in the first game, scoring 12 in 22 balls. But he got important breakthroughs in the form of Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme and then raised his game in Mount Maunganui, picking up two wickets again and then top scoring in England’s chase with an unbeaten 74-ball 63.
England, who beat Australia 4-1 earlier on their tour, are looking good, with all the top-order batsmen playing at least one good hand already – Jos Buttler has had two – and the bowlers largely keeping it tight.
New Zealand, meanwhile, need runs from Colin Munro and Henry Nicholls, and will also hope for Mark Chapman, if he gets in again, to get going like he did in the Twenty20 Internationals to give the bowlers something to bowl at.
That said, it’s just one defeat after a run of eight wins at home for New Zealand, and like Boult said about the second game, “Last night wasn't a very good representation of how we want to do things.” If they can correct that, it’s certainly game on.
Mitchell Santner (New Zealand): The No.8 batsman isn’t usually expected to play the big part, but Santner has come good twice, first with an unbeaten 27-ball 45 and then with 63 not out from 52 balls. He has been expensive with the ball but picked up wickets in the first game too, and will look to carry on the good work even if New Zealand don’t plan to leave the job with the bat so far down.
Ben Stokes (England): There’s very little Stokes can’t do on the cricket field and when he is in form, he does most of it very well. As in the second ODI. At No.5 in the batting order and with the ball, he will always be crucial to England’s plans and he looked good in the second game, which could mean bad news for New Zealand.
It’s just over a year since an ODI was played in Wellington, and on that occasion South Africa scored 271/8 before bowling New Zealand out for 112. That’s not a good memory for the home side, but they did beat Pakistan by seven wickets and England by 12 runs in T20Is this year at the venue, the second one in a big-scoring affair. If that match is an indication, the batsmen on either side should hope for good times on what should be a pleasant though slightly humid day.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler (wk), Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Craig Overton, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.