Only a couple of days after the conclusion of the Champions Trophy, New Zealand took on England in the first of the two T20s, at the Kennington Oval. It was a high scoring game, but New Zealand had the upper hand once they batted first. And since they got a 200 plus score, they were always the favourites to clinch the title although the hosts did put up an incredible fight back. In the end though, the pressure of the big score got to England.
Their ODI fortunes may be on the slide, but New Zealand have found some wonderfully talented players for the ODI format. Opener Hamish Rutherford is definitely one of them. On Tuesday as well he was key to Kiwis’ victory, smashing 62 off 35 balls. The impact of his blitzkrieg on the England bowlers can be gauged from the fact that 10 of those balls were either fours or sixes. Although James Franklin’s early dismissal set them back Rutherford got solid support from his skipper Brendon McCullum, who once again showed how brilliant a one day player he is. McCullum smashed 68 in 48 balls, with the aid of seven fours and two sixes.
While Rutherford and McCullum scored the majority of the runs, the cameos towards the end by Ross Taylor and Tom Latham were also significant. Taylor showed his talent again, blasting an unbeaten 32 from 19 balls while Latham made a quickfire 22 from 17 balls. Their partnership ensured that New Zealand went past the 200 mark. Among England’s bowlers, except for Boyd Rankin, all of the others proved to be expensive, and ineffective.
To chase down the mammoth score, England needed an exceptional start. They actually got a rollicking one, racing their way to 50 in under four overs. Micheal Lumb and Alex Hales played some brilliant shots during their innings. However, neither of them could carry on after getting great starts. Lumb was bowled by Nathan McCullum for 29 from 15 balls while Hales fell for 39 from 29 balls. They did give England a great chance nonetheless as England raced to 100 at the halfway stage.
Luke Wright continued the fight for England with a fantastic half-century, but the early loss of Eoin Morgan hampered their progress. Ravi Bopara came up with another cameo, an unbeaten one, but England kept losing wickets at the wrong time, that of Wright in particular. Jos Buttler played a couple of handsome strokes, but his run out put England further on the back foot, and in the end they just did not have enough power to get over the line.
--By A Cricket Analyst