England paid for a costly collapse as Ross Taylor’s superlative century clinched a five-wicket win for New Zealand to level the one-day international series at 2-2.
The tourists appeared sure to prevail in Dunedin when Jonny Bairstow’s wonderfully clean striking and Joe Root’s perfect foil took them to 267 for one with twin hundreds in an all-Yorkshire stand of 190.
But once Bairstow went for 138, an alarming collapse of six wickets for 21 runs took hold largely to the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi (four for 58) as England had to settle for 335 for nine.
Then Taylor (181no), who came to the crease at two for two and suffered increasingly with the quadriceps injury which ruled him out of the previous match, launched a telling recovery with captain Kane Williamson and Tom Latham (71) to secure victory with three balls to spare and set up a series decider in Christchurch on Saturday.
Tweet of the day
Taylor was increasingly restricted to this after aggravating his quadriceps injury mid-innings, but it merely hastened the process of New Zealand’s run chase as he dispatched more and more balls to – and often far beyond – the Dunedin Oval’s short boundaries.
Shot of the day
Taylor played lots, but Bairstow’s 107-metre six over the former art gallery beyond the long-on boundary off Ish Sodhi was still perhaps the most remarkable blow. He did not appear to even put his full weight into it – and he went on to hit even bigger sixes at the other end – but it was a memorable demonstration of the England opener’s power and timing.
Stat of the day
184 – In eight attempts since Jason Roy’s national-record 180 against Australia in Melbourne in January, the opener has made only a further 184 runs.
ODIs no poor relation
Cricket’s crowded schedule has put 50-over cricket between a rock and a hard place as the relentless march of Twenty20 and the traditional goodwill for Test matches apply the squeeze. But there is surely life in the ageing format yet if three wonderfully tight contests out of four so far in this series between two well-matched teams counts for anything.
Christchurch’s Hagley Oval on Saturday, when this tight series will have its deserved decider.