In a closely fought battle against England amid rain interruptions, Trent Boult assisted the host team in leveling the series. Before Liam Livingstone’s heroic 95*, Jos Buttler, Moeen Ali, and Sam Curran also contributed to the rescue mission.
Liam Livingstone’s unbeaten 95 runs saved England and established their series-squaring victory over New Zealand in the T20 series. His highest one-day international score reduced England’s target to 227 runs in a rain-affected match, which New Zealand had to chase. Despite Daryl Mitchell’s 57 runs, the visiting team lagged behind due to lower-order collapse.
Trent Boult marked his 100th ODI with three early wickets in eight overs, making a comeback for New Zealand. This forced England to struggle at 8 runs for 3 wickets in the challenging bowling conditions. When Livingstone came to bat at number 7, England was struggling at 55 runs for 5 wickets. However, with partnerships with Moeen Ali (48) and Sam Curran (112), Livingstone pulled England to a competitive total.
Before separating Tim Southee in New Zealand’s onslaught, Livingstone hit six boundaries in 17 balls. What’s astonishing is that he couldn’t reach three figures in the final two balls, finishing with 91 not out.
Livingstone expressed, “The past few months haven’t been particularly kind to me.”Unfortunately, one reason is there aren’t many lower-order hitters in my lineup who have excelled in the art of the game; it’s a challenging role. If you come in at a role, it’s pretty good, but when you find yourself in a situation where you have to get out of a bit of a hole, it’s quite tough. It’s probably the first time in my career that I’ve had to struggle for a couple of months, so I’ve tried to find out and do a lot of work behind the scenes, and I can do it – and that’s winning games for England.”
In this scorching heat, despite poor form, Livingstone’s extraordinary ability and a fantastic IPL record mean there’s no doubt about his place in England’s World Cup team. In just three days, with two contrasting half-centuries, he has convincingly shown why.
This was his longest innings in international cricket, and his highest score in a victory. New Zealand lost Finn Allen early, caught by David Willey on the second ball, but after scoring 111 runs for the loss of three wickets, Mitchell seemed to be in a heavy mood. However, Reece Topley took three wickets for 27 runs in his second spell, taking New Zealand’s last seven wickets for 36 runs.
After playing international cricket for the first time since last year’s T20 World Cup, Bolt, who had taken an early retirement from his central contract to maximize his availability for franchise leagues around the world, but has since been on a New Zealand hiatus, was always likely to be welcomed by New Zealand ahead of next month’s World Cup, and his new-ball wizardry showed why.
He hit a boundary off his seventh ball, when Johnny Bairstow advanced towards the leading edge of his cover, where Mitchell Santner took an excellent catch while completing his jump. Joe Root survived for just two balls, falling victim to an in-swinging delivery on the knee roll, and Ben Stokes only managed to loft Bolt to mid-off.
In the absence of Jason Roy (back strain) and Dawid Malan (paternity leave), Harry Brook was given another chance to open the batting, but he quickly fell after a brief powerplay. Brook attempted to swing Matt Henry over the infield but found the leading edge, and it went straight to the back-pedaling mid-off fielder.
Then Jos Buttler took charge of the reply and, in just four balls, sent Bolt to the ground with three boundaries. However, he fell for 30 runs out of 25 when he cut Santner’s drag-down delivery onto his own stumps. Like Bairstow and Brook, Buttler’s dismissal hinted at a slowing surface with several balls sticking in the pitch.
When Livingstone joined forces with Moeen at number 7, England had over 20 overs left for batting. This partnership added 48 runs in 50 balls, occasionally cautious before freeing their arms before New Zealand’s spin attack. Moeen fell for 33 runs when Glenn Phillips took a superb diving catch at point, at a point when Livingstone decided it was time to change gears.
Livingstone targeted Southee, hitting 17 runs in one over – including three boundaries in four balls; when he reached 47 runs in 47 balls, his second half-century in three days, it was time to accelerate. Curran, playing his first game since the Hundred final, took on both left-arm spinners – Santner and Rachin Ravindra – with sixes. This partnership added 100 runs off 32 overs when Livingstone hit his first six of Henry’s slower ball. Curran took Southey on with a fantastic shot in the very next over, and after an attempt by Mitchell Santner to catch Willey at long-off, he was run out on the boundary table. Like Alan, who survived a close lbw review off the first ball, Willey dismissed them on the second ball when he played a cover drive.
Michel partnered with Tom Latham to add 56 runs, but Topley’s second spell changed the game. Before falling to Phillips’ fantastic catch-and-bowl, Latham tried to flick a wide and Ravindra threw his second ball into slip. At 6 for 123, it was Mishel or bust. After hitting Moeen for six runs at long-off, Michel achieved his 100th ODI wicket by throwing a full toss to Moeen at mid-off; soon, his 101st score came when Santner shot to point. Willey eventually took three wickets to peg England back early in the evening