The safe hands of Colin de Grandhomme proved crucial as New Zealand drew level with England 1-1 in their Twenty20 international series in Wellington on Sunday. While de Grandhomme was pouching all four skied balls that went his way, England were left to rue an uncomfortable day in the field with six spilled chances including three by James Vince.
New Zealand, who suffered a seven-wicket loss in the first match on Friday, were sent in to bat first and made their most of the errant fielding to post 176 for eight. Martin Guptill at the top of the innings clouted 41 off 28 deliveries, while Jimmy Neesham belted 42 off 22, including four sixes, before he was removed on the final ball of the innings. De Grandhomme also pushed the pace, facing only 12 balls for a whirlwind 28.
England in reply looked comfortable at 91 for four in the 11th over before New Zealand removed the remaining six wickets to end the innings with a ball to spare. Mitchell Santner claimed three for 25 while Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi took two wickets apiece. England captain Eoin Morgan said it was easy to analyse the reasons for the loss, and the issues were repairable.
“The Blackcaps played really well,” he said. “I thought we bowled really well to them. We didn’t bat or field anywhere near what we did the other day. On this ground in particular, you probably take a little more risk than usual because of the dimensions, but I thought New Zealand bowled well and made us hit to the longer side.
“We need to continue a positive, aggressive mindset. It’s important to make mistakes – the most important part is to learn from them. If young lads can continue to do that early in their international career, they’ll do well.”
After England lost Johnny Bairstow first ball, and Vince in the second over, Morgan (32) and Dawid Malan (39) set about rebuilding the innings. But when Morgan gave de Grandhomme his first catch, the wickets fell regularly with only Chris Jordan (36 off 19) providing any solid resistance at the lower part of the batting order.
Malan fell to an exceptional diving catch by Guptill who also accounted for the wicket of Jordan in a polished New Zealand fielding performance.
“We saw how deep they can bat with Jordan coming out later in the innings. You’re always looking at ways to get better. There’s subtle changes throughout the series when you’re changing the sizes of the ground. There’s still room for improvement in all three areas but… we can continue playing the brand of cricket we want to,” Tim Southee said.
Santner was named Player of the Match. “It’s obviously nice to get a few poles and for the lads to get a win,” he said. “When the fielders are backing the bowlers up it makes it that much easier. We just needed to improve a little bit in all three aspects [from Christchurch]. We needed to adapt our plans a little bit but we managed that.”
Brief Scores: New Zealand 176/8 in 20 overs (James Neesham 42, Martin Guptill 41; Chris Jordan 3-23, Sam Curran 2-22) beat England 155 in 19.5 overs (Dawid Malan 39, Chris Jordan 36; Mitchell Santner 3-25, Tim Southee 2-25) by 21 runs