|Scorecard:||England v New Zealand|
|Event:||New Zealand in England 2013|
By Andy Jalil at The Oval
London Having barely recovered after their crushing Champions Trophy defeat against India two days earlier, England suffered again by the same margin of five runs against New Zealand in the first of two Twenty20 matches. But this was a match of big-hitting by batsmen of both sides to entertain a near-capacity crowd, a testament to the pulling power on the national team. It also continues to prove the popularity of this format of the game and the crowds appetite for quick thrill.
Having lost the 50-over series to New Zealand last month this latest defeat following by the capitulation in the Champions Trophy final, cant do much for Englands morale before the Ashes series despite the different format which begins in just under a fortnight. But England on this occasion responded with confidence chasing a daunting target of 202.
New Zealand were asked to make first use of a perfect batting wicket by Englands stand-in captain Eoin Morgan. But after Boyd Rankin, the 6ft 7in Irish fast bowler playing his first match since defecting to England last year having played internationals for Ireland, claimed a wicket with only the fourth ball of the match, the visitors settled into a solid second wicket stand.
The England bowling suffered at the hands of Hamish Rutherford and Brendon McCullum, the New Zealand captain. Chris Woakes, who opened the bowling with Rankin set the tone of the visitors batting with nineteen runs being hit in his first and only over. He was replaced by Jade Dernbach who had Rutherford dropped on 25 by Ravi Bopara, it wasnt an easy chance, high above the fielders head at square leg.
The drop proved costly as the batsman piled on the runs smashing four sixes and six fours in scoring 62 from 35 balls. Two of those sixes were off consecutive balls from James Tredwell whose two overs went for 32 before he was taken off and England in their attempt to break the stand had used six bowlers by the ninth over.
Rutherfords maiden half century in the Twenty20 over game had come from 28 balls when he pulled Tredwell for four to backward square leg. His innings finally ended when his lofted drive off Luke Wright was held at long-off and New Zealand were 115 for two in the twelfth over. The partnership of 114 had come from 71 balls. McCullum went on to reach his eleventh Twenty20 half century from 36 balls and one of his two sixes which took him to 58 landed at the back of the rows of the stand at long-on.
His innings too was brought to an end by Wright who yorked him to finish with two for 31. By then the tourists were 161 for three in the sixteenth over before Ross Taylor unbeaten on 32 off 19 balls saw them to 201 for four.
In reply England raced to fifty in 3.2 overs before Michael Lumb played-on having hit 29 from 15 balls with 24 of those runs coming from fours and sixes. Alex Hales, who has been in poor form in domestic cricket found his touch at last with 39 off 29 balls and when he was dismissed, England were just over half-way to their target with half the number of overs gone.
Although the hosts continued to score at the requisite pace the match swung again in New Zealands favour when Morgan fell to a sensational catch at slip where Taylor leaped high to take the ball one handed. Wright meanwhile had brought up his fifty from 29 balls but in reaching for a wide ball he was held behind.
With Jos Buttler run out for 17 which included an improvised six from a ramp shot over fine leg, England were 184 for five with eight balls remaining. There was much hope with Bopara in and from the final over sixteen were required. The excitement rose with Ben Stokes hitting the first ball for six but the next five produced just four runs to leave England on 196 for five and Boparas fine effort left him on 30 not out from only eighteen balls with England just missing out on a win for the second time in two days.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2013 Andy Jalil)