Dropped catches and early wickets will haunt England as they reflect on defeat to a much-improved Blackcaps opposition in Wellington.
The series is now drawn heading to Nelson’s third T20 international, and for the first time in this reasonably new series, the inexperience of the English showed itself on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with perfect conditions for cricket.
But the experience that actually was in the sheds let England down, exampled by James Vince who dropped several easy catches in the field. Just where Vince’s poise, control, and level-headedness had gone to after his stellar showing in Christchurch was anyone’s guess.
New Zealand, meanwhile, were back to something near where they envisioned being after their heavy defeat two days ago. It wasn’t easy and defending 176 presented more than a few storms to navigate, not the least of which a blazing 36 from paceman Chris Jordan to keep the result uncertain late in the chase.
Jordan’s departure saw victory ensured, credit to Mitch Santner who bowled well again to finish with figures of 3/25.
Earlier in the day, the platform for victory had been set by a noticeably more aggressive New Zealand batting performance led by Martin Guptill and finished off by James Neesham. Respectively, the two added 83 runs to New Zealand’s kitty which were crucial in the outcome of the match.
Plus, it added the batting confidence that you sense Guptill in particular needed.
Guptill Finds Leather As Neesham Bats Blackcaps To 176
Thanks to Martin Guptill, who could be finding a bit of form, New Zealand were quick off the mark and had set the platform for a high score.
Guptill couldn’t close out by notching yet another T20 half-century, holding out in the deep for 41, and it began a slow but noticeable turn around for England. Sam Curran and Chris Jordan were slowing the scoring rate, but it was the overs in between that hurt the visitors as easy catches were dropped.
In fact, England let four catches go down in the field, all of which should’ve been taken. How many runs that could’ve saved is one thing, but England would’ve easily managed to bowl New Zealand out had the catches been held.
Regular sixes flew into the stands, many of which from the leg side as James Neesham enjoyed his first outing for New Zealand in T20 since 2017. The fresh-faced popular character spearheaded his side through the middle of the innings, riding England’s fightback to hit four maximums and a couple of boundaries before falling for 42 on the final ball of the innings.
New Zealand had reached 176, but after being 96/3 after ten overs, the final total may have felt just a little short.
Poor Start Sees England Unable To Recover
It didn’t start well for England. Rather than take a ball to get settled, Jonny Bairstow went after the first one he saw, miss timing and chipping straight to Daryl Mitchell in the field.
0/1, it was not a good start for England in their bid for 177, but then it got worse.
A horror day for James Vince continued when he slashed one right to Mitch Santner in the deep, suddenly England were 7/2. Earlier, Vince had dropped multiple catches in the field to let the New Zealand batsmen off the hook.
Eoin Morgan attempted to put the bad start behind England, and for a whilst it looked like the inspirational skipper could get the job done. Hitting cut shots to the fence in succession, Morgan had raced to 32 before Santner came on and took the crucial wicket. Santner, 27, has become somewhat the rescuer for New Zealand when riding the storm in the field, continuing the trend by dismissing perhaps England’s greatest threat.
Wickets fell at regular intervals as English batters were forced to hit long thanks to the rising required RPO.
Opener David Malan made himself noticed, doing all he could to wrestle England back into the chase by hitting some serious distance, joining the infamous club of batsmen to find the roof at Westpac Stadium with a monster six.
When Malan fell for a defiant 39, England looked done and dusted, but there was to be another twist.
Chris Jordan plonked six after six and with a few boundaries in between, the balance appeared to shift again before the tall fast bowler’s batting luck ran out on 36 after a fine showing. That ensured the script was indeed written.
New Zealand held on to claim a 22-run victory.