After four crackers England and New Zealand meet in winner-take-all clash
The ODI series between New Zealand and England will get the finale everyone had craved after Ross Taylor’s heroics in Dunedin ensured the fifth and final match will be a winner-take-all encounter.
Momentum has swung both ways during the series, with England bouncing back from losing the first match to take the second and third. The tourists looked well set to wrap up the series in Dunedin as brilliant centuries from Yorkshire duo Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root helped them to an imposing 335 from their 50 overs.
It should arguably have been a bigger total, as Root and Bairstow were eyeing a total towards 400 when together but England suffered a middle-order collapse that slowed their charge in the final few overs.
It still looked a defendable total, especially when New Zealand skipper and star man Kane Williamson was given out caught behind, only for replays to show he had not hit the ball. It was disappointing for Williamson, but he only had teammate Colin Munro to blame after he used up the team’s review on an LBW that would have knocked the stumps out of the ground.
Taylor took up the baton and despite batting for the second part of his innings with an injury picked up when making his ground for a run, he flayed England’s bowling to all parts in a brilliant innings of 181 not out.
The batting heroics of Taylor set everything up perfectly for the final game of the series at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch – a venue New Zealand have never lost at with a perfect eight wins from as many games.
Momentum may now be with New Zealand, but that has not been a barometer so far and the physios will need to work wonders to patch Taylor up for the match.
England will be licking their wounds after letting Root and Bairstow’s brilliance go to waste, but skipper Eoin Morgan has no intention of telling his batters to tone down their attacking mindset – yet.
“We’ve certainly had collapses of the top order – in the first 10, we’ve been four or five down,” Morgan said, per Cricinfo. “But certainly when we’ve earned the right to push for a 370 score, we’ve not had a collapse like that. Normally one of us has come off.
“That’s the way the batting order lines up, and that’s the way our template looks. If it continues to be a pattern we’ll look into it deeply. But everybody walking off, it’s hurting deep that we’ve not been able to capitalise on that.”
The market makers feel England will bounce back to claim the win, with 188BET chalking them up at 1.67 – with New Zealand priced at 2.17.
Much could hinge on whether New Zealand can get Taylor up and running, as otherwise there may be too much pressure on the admittedly world-class talent that is Williamson as the other home batters have not done enough – especially with England having so many elite options.