England v New Zealand: Buttler’s heroics helps hosts win final ODI
England v New Zealand: Jos Buttler helps the hosts win the final ODI by 34 runs in a much-improved display at Trent Bridge
A vastly improved England performance ensured the hosts avoided a series whitewash as they beat New Zealand by 34 runs in the final one-day international at Trent Bridge.
The hosts’ 287-6 was led by Ian Bell (82) and then the phenomenal Jos Buttler, who nearly blasted the quickest ODI fifty ever, when he hit 47 off just 16 balls, striking six fours and three sixes.
The 22-year-old’s cameo knock helped England add an incredible 76 runs in the final four overs – something they have been sorely lacking so far this series.
Then the bowling attack – boosted by the return of Stuart Broad and Steven Finn – got to work on the New Zealand top-order before the spinners chipped in later to deny the visitors any hope of victory.
Broad and Finn have been conspicuous by their absence in the first two matches but their return and the addition of James Tredwell, who took three for 51, really enhanced England’s credentials.
This season Tredwell’s form has been relatively poor for his county, Kent, but he used all his nous to oust dangerman Martin Guptill – named man-of-the-series – and Brendon McCullum to douse the spark in New Zealand’s reply.
Having lost the series’ opening two matches, Ashley Giles, England limited-overs coach, will be happy to gain some kind of momentum before the Champions Trophy starts.
With this match being a dead rubber, England made four changes, choosing to rest James Anderson and Graeme Swann ahead of Saturday’s Champions Trophy clash against Australia.
New Zealand won the toss and inserted England into bat, who lost an early wicket when Alastair Cook was plumb in front for nine-ball duck to Mitchell McClenaghan with the score on three.
But Jonathan Trott and Bell put England back on track, with a stand of 66, however, it wasn’t long before McClenaghan was amongst the wickets again when he trapped the South African-born batsman for 37.
England’s starlet Joe Root appeared nervous early on – perhaps with the added expectation on his shoulders in recent weeks – and was dropped on 10 by Guptill at short midwicket.
But Bell – Root’s senior partner – continued to look at ease, helping his 22-year-old partner settle. A lofted six off James Franklin in 31st over moved Bell to 67 as he oozed class.
However, two wickets in five balls set England back again with 15 overs or so to go. First, Root was run out for 33 and then Bell loosely drove to Nathan McCullum at mid-off.
The latter had used the drive to great effect all through his 96-ball 82 but was clearly disappointed with his dismissal, which he failed to middle at all.
The double blow meant that out-of-form duo Eoin Morgan and Bopara found themselves in at the start of the batting power play – both on nought.
Both scratched around and could only muster 20 runs in the allotted five overs, designed for fast scoring.
They did eventually push on and brought up their half-ton stand off 62 balls – a period of the game characterised by wafting and thick edges.
Sadly, it was almost a relief when Bopara was out for 28 runs. A case in point when Buttler, the next man in, duly made hay.
He obliterated 22 off one Kyle Mills’ over, which included the sequence of 6-4-4-4-0-4 and the previously impressive McClenaghan saw his figures desecrated by the Somerset man, who blasted 19 off the left-arm seamer’s final over.
A 62-run partnership off 26 balls put England in a much-stronger position having only surpassed the 200-mark in the 45th over.
New Zealand’s reply through Guptill and Luke Ronchi started off a rate of knots, going well over a run-a-ball. The asking rate was just under six an over but there was no method in the madness and it failed to set the right tone for the innings.
Ronchi’s gung-ho nature was only going to last so long. Having slapped four fours, he top-edged a pull to Trott and Guptill was out 23 balls later New Zealand were 70 for two.
Guptill has been in stunning form this series hitting – before today – 292 unbeaten runs but Tredwell produced a dreamy ball to castle the Black Caps’ opener.
Tredwell has never been renowned for the amount of spin he imparts on the ball but he defied his critics here to bowl himself into contention for selection in England’s first-choice Champions Trophy XI.
However, it was another off-spinner who came good for England next. Root – only deemed an occasional twirler by many – got Kane Williamson (19) leg-before.
Colin Munro – making his first appearance in the series – was out for a golden duck, three balls later to Tim Bresnan.
The Black Caps were now five down for 111 and Tredwell – used sparingly by Cook – took his second wicket in the space of 19 balls to effectively end the tourists’ hopes of completing a whitewash.
Ross Taylor and McCullum (28) put together 50 off 54 balls to keep their side in the hunt before the former was well caught by Broad and then Tim Southee (15) picked out Cook at midwicket.
But when Taylor, on 59, decided to make a dash for the finishing line – it was all over. The ex-New Zealand skipper, having hit two consecutive sixes off Tredwell, he went for a third and was caught by Finn at deep-midwicket.
Mills and McClenaghan belied their batting position for a while to take New Zealand to within 34 runs off England’s score before the number 11 slapped Finn down Root’s throat.
England will now look to the weekend when their Champions Trophy campaign begins but will be glad that they have got back to winning ways here ahead of a tournament only a week ago they were predicted to win.