World Cup: New Zealand stop England at 305 after Bairstow sizzles again
Jonny Bairstow struck successive centuries. (AFP Image)

DURHAM: With a semi-final place up for grabs, England have set New Zealand a target of 306 on the back of Jonny Bairstow’s ninth ODI century, Jason Roy‘s fifty and another century-partnership between the two. ALSO READ: England unchanged, Southee and Henry in for New Zealand

Roy and Bairstow added 123 for the first wicket and put England on course for a strong total before an inspiring comeback from New Zealand saw them pick up five wickets for 66 runs. Buoyed by Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid‘s 29 off 12, England finished on 305/8. ALSO READ: ICC World Cup 2019, Match 41 – England vs New Zealand

The surface used at the Riverside stadium for both teams’ final league game of the World Cup 2019 was one of the flatter ones in the tournament. England, without any second thoughts, batted first and were provided an explosive start by Bairstow and Roy. The duo put on its third straight century-plus partnership of the tournament and chalked out England’s joint-best Powerplay of the World Cup – 67 without loss.

Mitchell Santner bowled the first over and in an adventurous start to the game, almost had Roy bowled as the ball missed the leg stump by a whisker and raced for four. There onward, Roy and Bairstow went on the attack. Tim Southee, playing his first game since January 2019 and only his fifth ODI of the year – was clattered for three boundaries in a row by Bairstow. Roy was offered gifts wide outside off and the opener responded by duly dispatching them to the ropes.

Scoring at eight an over, England were up and running. The 50-partnership was up between the two batsmen off 38 balls before Bairstow and Roy reached their respective half-centuries, off consecutive deliveries. Roy appeared in sublime nick, swatting away anything remotely short to him. A hook off Matt Henry took Roy’s top edge and the ball went over the wicketkeeper to disappear in the covers before it was reprieved.

Colin de Grandhomme’s first over was clobbered for 11 runs as Bairstow and Roy brought up their 10th 100-run stand in ODIs. New Zealand went 18.4 overs without success before the breakthrough finally arrived. Roy, having pulled James Neesham for back-to-back boundaries, stopped his drive to hit the ball to Santner at cover. But Bairstow, who had dished out some early pyrotechnics ensured England kept ticking away.

At the 15-over mark, England were 160 for 1 and a 350-plus total looked inevitable. The pace at which the ball came onto the bat was ideal for a batsman of Bairstow’s calibre to take off and that’s exactly what he did. Santner was crunched for a couple of disdainful boundaries and Southee’s length ball tonked over his head for a six. Bairstow continued to torment England’s tormentor from the 2015 World Cup match between the two sides, and with two fours off three balls, brought up his second straight century.

Joe Root ran 20 of his 24 runs before offering a faint nick to a Boult bouncer to Tom Latham before Henry produced the wicket New Zealand wanted. Driving away from his body, Bairstow played on. From there New Zealand clawed their way back into the match by taking out the next three wickets for 56 runs even though Eoin Morgan held one end strong. Jos Buttler scored 11 off 12, while Ben Stokes got the same number of runs off 27 balls.

In a bid to get a move on, Stokes went down the wicket to Santner but failed to clear mid-on. Three overs later, Neesham had Chris Woakes caught by Kane Williamson, followed by Santner taking a stunning catch at cover to remove Morgan. It left England 7 down for 272 and with 23 balls to go, New Zealand had a chance to keep England under 300. But despite losing four wickets for 64 in the final 10 overs, England managed to cross it in the final over.

Brief Scores: England 305/8 (Jonny Bairstow 106, Jason Roy 60; James Neesham 2/41) vs New Zealand.