After their recent performances in 50-over format, including the World Cup debacle down under, England called the shots in 1st ODI against New-Zealand at Edgbaston. Some enthusiasts and die-hard fans may call it a new era in England’s one-day cricket but such things have happened in the past. It will be foolhardy to get carried away by a one-off show and it is better to allow the remaining two ODI matches to be completed. Regardless, England batsmen were formidable at Birmingham and reached beyond 400 runs for the first time in their ODI history. After McCullum put them in to bat first after winning the toss, England began by losing opener Jason Roy first ball. It was Trent Boult of course and he came back in the eighth over to take the other opener Alex Hales as well. But England didn’t go into their shell. Powerful and courageous hitting from Jos Buttler and Joe Root, supported by useful knocks from Eoin Morgan and Adil Rashid had telling effect on Kiwi bowlers and fielders, who couldn’t contain the unexpected English onslaught. Root notched up 104 off 78 balls with 2 sixes and 13 fours and Buttler complimented even more forcefully to score 129 off 77 with 13 fours and 5 sixes to deflate New Zealand. Despite their batting firepower, 409 to chase for victory was too monumental for New-Zealanders, when they came on to bat. Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson and Grant Elliott offered some resistance after McCullum perished early but that was never going to be enough against the sky-high England score. The visitor lost all their wickets in the 32nd over for 198 and lost the first ODI by a huge 210 run margin.
When Brendon McCullum asked England to bat first after winning the toss, he couldn’t have foreseen that the decision will boomerang on him. Though England lost opener Jason Roy off the first ball of the match, Joe Root and Alex Hales carried the score to 50 in the 8th over, when Boult struck again to get rid of Hales. But Root and captain Morgan took the score to 171 in the 23rd over before Morgan got out. For a brief period, New Zealand came back into the game by taking the wickets of Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Sam Billings. At the end of 30 overs, England had scored 202/6 and McCullum planned to contain the innings. However, the arrival of Jos Buttler changed everything. The man, who holds the record of England’s fastest ODI hundred with his 61-ball century against Sri Lanka in a 2014 ODI at Lord’s, last year, took the baton for England and in the next 20 overs brought about a great transformation. Buttler went berserk as the power-play ensued in the 35th over, at which time England were 232/6. With assistance from Rashid, he raced to his century off 66 balls and didn’t relent in blasting the Kiwi bowlers. Rashid proved a great company as he hammered 69 off 50, When Buttler finally departed in the 48th over; he had scored 129 off 77 balls with 13 fours and 5 sixes. Rashid continued until the 50th over and England finished with a massive 408/9.
New Zealand knew that the task of chasing 409 for victory was difficult despite the explosive batting line-up that they have. England was never going to surrender the advantage that they had created by mounting a solid total. The Kiwi innings began on a disastrous note as McCullum was bowled by Steven Finn on the last ball of the innings first over. Though Guptill, Taylor, Williamson and Elliott offered a semblance of resistance, New Zealand were on a path of losing the match. Finn and Rashid made life difficult for the New Zealand batsmen in taking 4 wickets apiece and the innings came to an end in 32nd over for 198 all out. Buttler’s whirlwind knock was the highlight of the match that England won by 210 runs. Butler deservedly received the player-of-the-match award.
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