England need to stay alive against spirited New Zealand
NAPIER, Thursday: New Zealand have bounced back from their opening defeat to win the last two matches against England. Another win on Friday in the fourth T20 International at McLean Park will seal the series in Napier.
England began the series on a strong note in Christchurch, thumping the hosts by seven wickets with an over-and-a-half to spare. They have since suffered two defeats and need to win the next game to keep the series alive.
England’s batting, the middle order in particular, has appeared a bit iffy in each of those last two contests. Sam Billings and Sam Curran have endured failures at Nos.5 and 6 in both those games.
By stark contrast, New Zealand’s middle order has looked very dangerous. Ross Taylor and James Neesham have enjoyed sizeable returns. But the biggest positive for New Zealand has been the form of Colin de Grandhomme at No.4. He has racked up 102 runs in the series while striking at 167.21, which has enabled New Zealand to post defendable totals.
As for the bowling, Saqib Mahmood and Pat Brown have been expensive for England, and the visitors will strongly consider bringing back Chris Jordan for the fourth game, after he was rested in Nelson. New Zealand’s fast bowlers have been quite good for the most part and will be bolstered by the return of Trent Boult, who was absent for the first three games.
At 139/2, England seemed to be going great guns in their chase of 181, but the loss of the next five wickets for just ten runs completely derailed their efforts. The New Zealand pacers were absolutely outstanding.
Blair Tickner, playing only his second match, was outstanding, dismissing the well-set James Vince for 49 at a critical juncture, after which England struggled to find rhythm. Both Tickner and Ferguson finished with 2/25 from their four overs. De Grandhomme was instrumental in setting up the score, smacking 55 off 35 balls, and was named the Player of the Match.
New Zealand all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme said: “Definitely you can’t give them an inch. You’ve got to keep hitting them hard and try and win every game when you can. They’re pretty good lads and they’re a good team, so it’s always nice beating them, but we’ve got to move on from that.”
“It is the most inexperienced side that we will field. We can’t come out expecting to win 5-0, we do need to learn and make mistakes throughout the whole series,” was how England captain Eoin Morgan summed up his team’s performances.