To chase down a 336-run target on any surface requires a special effort, and it was a special knock from Ross Taylor, who blasted an unbeaten 147-ball 181, that took New Zealand to a famous five-wicket victory in the fourth one-day international against England in Dunedin on Wednesday, 7 March.
Put in to bat, England had reached 267/1 in the 37th over, riding on a 190-run stand between Jonny Bairstow (138) and Joe Root (102). Just when it seemed like England would take the game away, Ish Sodhi and Trent Boult triggered a collapse, picking up six wickets for just 21 runs to set England back. After that, it was all Taylor, with a little help from Tom Latham and Kane Williamson. The result levelled the series at 2-2 with one game to go.
@RossLTaylor oh my word. One of the best. Hell of a knock and a tremendous win. Get the other eye checked mate just in case!!! Congratulations.— Stephen Fleming (@SPFleming7) March 7, 2018
New Zealand got off to the worst possible start, losing Colin Munro and Martin Guptill, the openers, inside the first three overs. Coming in at 2/2, Taylor first strung an 84-run stand with Williamson and then a 187-run partnership with Latham, reaching his 19th ODI ton in the process. He did it while suffering from cramps almost all along, which hampered his running through the latter part of his knock.
“I think I batted well in Hamilton, but wasn’t there at the end,” said Taylor, the Player of the Match, afterwards. “Lots of guys came in and it was good to have all those partnerships.
“You just have to give yourself a chance, set little goals along the way, and give ourselves a chance. You can't win it in the first 10 overs, but you certainly can lose it. Just try and take is as deep as we can.”
Taylor also credited Sodhi and Boult for keeping the England total to manageable proportions. “It looked like England would get 360-380 at one stage, so our bowlers did well to keep them down,” said Taylor.
“I was about 110 or 120, when the physio came out and asked if I wanted to stay in or come out. I just decided to swing. I couldn't run any twos, so I didn't want to put any pressure on the other guy. So I had a go, and hit a couple out of the screws. The way (Henry) Nicholls batted and finished it off – yu don't want to panic in that situation.”
Hailing Taylor's knock as one of the best ever, Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, said, “Greatest one day knock I have seen him play. A few niggles, but hopefully he will be okay. But it was a great knock from him.
“It was a wicket where, once you got in, you could really score quickly, which they showed by getting to 260 so quickly. Ross – after a tough start, he got himself in and played his best one-day knocks. One of the best of all time.”
Ruing the loss of wickets at the back-end, Eoin Morgan, the England captain, said that with the start his side had, they should have scored more. “A beauty of a game,” said Morgan. “I'm sure everyone was thoroughly entertained.
“I thought there was more moisture at the toss. We got into a really commanding position. We lost 4 for 20 or 25, which we cannot afford to do, 335 was a good score, but we would certainly have liked more.”
Morgan said that he had expected his batsmen to carry on the good work after the Bairstow-Root pair was separated with 13-odd overs to go. “We bat quite deep, and we usually go hard in that situation. We didn't manage to do it today. New Zealand bowled well,” he said.
On Taylor’s innings, Morgan said, “Usually, when someone gets injured, they go hard earlier, and offer more chances. Ross didn't do that. He went hard earlier, and took the game away from us.”