Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ross Taylor all scored centuries in the fourth one-day international between New Zealand and England at Dunedin’s University Oval on Wednesday, 7 March. But it was Taylor, with an imperious unbeaten 181 off 147 balls, who finished on the winning side.
Bairstow and Root’s second-wicket stand formed the core of England’s 335/9. Taylor, along with good hands from Tom Latham, Kane Williamson and Colin de Grandhomme, took the home side past the target to to 339/5 for a five-wicket win with three balls in hand.
The five-match series is now level at 2-2.
Taylor, who came in at 2/2, appeared a man on a mission. His half-century came off 48 balls, and his 19th ODI century in a steady 98. He played through the pain of cramps and injury for one of the great knocks in the format, his innings including 17 fours and six sixes.
England, put in to bat, might have had more if not for Ish Sodhi’s 4/58.
Sodhi, with some help from Trent Boult (2/56), ran through the visitors’ middle order to deny them a chance to hit out in the last 10 overs.
Bairstow and Root dug in, reading the spinners well. As he neared his fifty, the opener cut loose, bringing up the half-century in 38 balls.
Jason Roy got England off to a brisk start. The opening pair of Roy and Bairstow raced to 77 after the first 10, with Roy hitting two sixes off Tim Southee and Boult.
Sodhi, introduced in the 11th over, got the breakthrough with his second delivery. Roy top-edged the ball to give a diving Mitchell Santner a catch and departed for 42 off 41 balls.
His shots came all around the ground and he was especially brutal in dispatching sixes over long-on. Having survived a drop on 78, he eased to his century with a swept boundary.
Root too got his runs at a good click. The two stuck around till the 38th over, adding 190 runs and threatening to put on a total much bigger than what they eventually did.
However, once Bairstow fell for 138 off 106 balls, top-edging an off-cutter from Colin Munro, it opened the gates for a procession. England went from 267/1 to 288/7.
Even as he ran out of partners, Root pushed for runs. He was out soon after for 102 off 101 balls, though, in a knock that included two sixes.
Tom Curran blazed away with four boundaries in the final over for a 10-ball 22* and while it made for a solid total, it was not the one England would have aimed for.
Neither of the New Zealand openers opened their account and by the third over, it looked dire for them.
Taylor, though, rebuilt the innings – not for the first time this series – with stands of 84 and 187 for the third and fourth wickets respectively with Williamson and Latham.
The third-wicket pair had begun with abundant caution, but were not short of intent. They were getting ready to hit out when Ben Stokes in his first delivery had Williamson caught behind for a 48-ball 45.
Latham made Moeen Ali pay for dropping him off his own bowling when on 4, slogging him for six in the same over. He would slam two more sixes in his 67-ball 71.
When Latham fell to a slower delivery from Curran, New Zealand needed 63 runs off the last seven overs. De Grandhomme got going with a couple of fours off Adil Rashid, and followed it up quickly with two sixes to bring the required rate to almost a run a ball.
Curran sent back de Grandhomme (23) with a full toss, but Taylor and Henry Nicholls ensured there would be no further twists to get New Zealand past the line.
The final match in the series will be played at Christchurch’s Hagley Oval on Saturday, 10 March.