On Saturday, England thought of chasing in the series-deciding ODI at Cardiff’s Riverside Ground in Chester-le-Street. Though, New Zealand had put on 283/9 in 50 overs, England didn’t need 284 for victory. Rain came after the New Zealand innings and a new victory target was worked out for them as per the D/L method. Now they needed 192 in 26 overs. With half of England’s batsmen back in pavilion for mere 45 runs in the 9th over, Morgan’s decision after the toss looked foolhardy. In the next 17.5 overs, another 147 runs were required at over 8 runs per over. Opener Jason Roy and Ben Stokes were the only ones, who had crossed the double figured scores and their captain, Eoin Morgan had fallen for a duck after his match-winning century in the fourth ODI. It looked like New Zealand’s game at 45/5. Then came Jonny Bairstow. Since Jos Buttler was injured, England didn’t want to expose their wicketkeeper batsman with the Ashes Series looming ahead. So they had replaced Buttler with Bairstow. Though Kent wicketkeeper Sam Billings could have filled in for Buttler, England opted for additional cover behind the stumps. That was how Yorkshire’s Bairstow got his chance and his 9th ODI appearance for England turned out to be memorable! The 25-year old Bairstow grabbed the opportunity with both hands and with another wicketkeeper batsman Billings, brought about a scintillating turnaround. The two batsmen added 80 runs for sixth wicket and England were back on course. Bairstow carried his bat through and ensured a 3-wicket victory for England with a composed 83 off 60 balls. It was a superlative single-handed effort that led to the ODI-Series win for England, leaving the New Zealanders shocked.
Batting first, New Zealand began by losing Brendon McCullum on the last ball of the first over from Steven Finn. But Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson added 94 for the second wicket and after Williamson fell, another 49 came from the partnership between Guptill and Ross Taylor. There was some hiccup as Guptill and Santner departed in quick succession but New Zealand were propped up by Taylor and Grant Elliott as the score went past 200 in the 41st over. In the remaining 9 overs New Zealand batted briskly and ended their 50 overs with 283/9.
Rain delayed the start of England’s chase for about two hours and finally, when the weather cleared, the victory target was revised to 192 in 26 overs. England’s top-order batsmen made a mess of the chase and slumped to 45/5 in 9.1 overs. The wicket was sluggish and England batsmen couldn’t adjust to the variation. Though Alex Hales fell to a brilliant catch from Williamson, Joe Root came too far down the crease off Santner’s ball and was stumped by Ronchi on second attempt. Skipper Morgan played a slog-sweep and holed out to deep midwicket for a golden duck. Ben Stokes also lost his wicket in trying to hit a six and Jason Roy’s dismissal made it 45/5. On the crease now were two wicketkeepers and one of them was Yorkshire’s Jonny Bairstow. Just when English fans cursed earlier batsmen for their sordid batting and rued a lost cause, Jonny Bairstow began to transform the scenario.
Bairstow and Sam Billings added 80 in 57 balls for the sixth wicket and New Zealand couldn’t control the free-swinging Bairstow. Earlier, when the required run-rate touched 9 per over, the balance was in New Zealand’s favour. But Bairstow changed all that. New Zealand could have killed the chase as Bairstow was dropped twice; once by Ronchi when on 39 and second time Mitchell Santner dropped a sitter, when Bairstow had scored 56. In the last 12 balls, England needed 17. Bairstow struck two fours and a single. Then Adil Rashid added another boundary and went for a single to allow Bairstow to score the winning boundary. England won the series by 3 wickets with 6 balls remaining and Jonny Bairstow became an instant hero.
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