New Zealand v England: Talking points as tourists get off to a flyer
New Zealand v England: Matt Cansick looks at the talking points as the tourists thrash their hosts by 40 runs in T20 opener
England get off to flyer
Some scintillating batting saw England win the first Twenty20 international against New Zealand in Auckland. Having been put in to bat, the tourists posted a mammoth 214-7 – their highest T20 score – and were able to restrict their opponents to 174-9 to seal a 40-run victory. Eoin Morgan top scored with 46 from 26 balls, while there were also valuable contributions from Luke Wright (42 from 20), Jonny Bairstow (32 from 16) and Jos Buttler (32 from 16) as England maintained their momentum down the batting card. New Zealand were always up against it during their run chase, and were left to rue five dropped catches while they were in the field. Stuart Broad led the attack and finished with 4-24 as his side continued momentum from the warm-up matches against the New Zealand XIs – and took a 1-0 lead in the series to start their tour with a bang.
Batting sets up comfortable win
There was good early impetus from opener Alex Hales, who reached 21 from 14 balls before he was stumped by Brendon McCullum off the bowling of Ronnie Hira. The runs continued to flow throughout the middle order, and this will be especially pleasing for England coach Ashley Giles; to have the top six batsmen in the runs in the first competitive match of the tour bodes well. Admittedly this was not a typical cricket ground with particularly short boundaries straight of the wicket, but England were able to make better use of this than New Zealand and can be very pleased with their performance. They key now is developing some consistency throughout the tour, particularly if they find themselves having to chase a difficult total in the second match of the series. The signs are good, but in the shortest format of the game it only takes a few bad overs to completely change the complexion of a game.
Return of big guns bodes well
Captain Broad will be pleased to have led from the front on his return to the side, particularly after the frustration of his recent heel injury which appears to be a problem that will hinder him for the foreseeable future. He was well backed up by Steven Finn who took 3-39 from his four overs, and Broad even went as far as saying this was the best performance he had overseen during his tenure as T20 captain. It is a good start, but New Zealand are a strong one-day team in both T20 and ODI cricket, and are likely to respond. With this game the first a three-match series rather than the usual two, and a winner therefore much more likely than the frequent drawn series, England have the chance to seal the best possible start to their tour in the day-nighter in Hamilton on Tuesday.