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Joe Root’s brilliant form with the bat continued as he smashed a magnificent 68 to help England register a 56-run win over New Zealand in the one-off Twenty20 International in Manchester.
Even though Root proved to be a thorn in New Zealand’s side once again, Kane Williamson, who has by far been New Zealand’s best batsman throughout the series, deserves a lot of credit for his valiant knock of 57.
England got off to a blistering start after captain Eoin Morgan opted to bat first, but New Zealand began to claw their way back into the match as they took wickets at regular intervals. In fact, many of England’s batsmen got off to promising starts before they threw their wickets away.
However, the hosts were able to finish on 191/7 off their 20 overs thanks to Root’s superb innings of 68, which came off 46 balls and included eight boundaries and a six.
Mitchell Santner and Mitchell McClenaghan picked up two wickets apiece, while Tim Southee and Matt Henry chipped in with one wicket each.
Chasing a daunting target of 192 to win, New Zealand got off to a poor start as opening batsman Martin Guptill was clean bowled by David Willey for six runs off the third ball of the innings.
New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum began to work his magic for a couple of overs before he edged a delivery from Mark Wood back onto his stumps and was on his way back to the pavilion after a quickfire 35.
Following McCullum’s dismissal, none of the other batsmen, with the exception of Williamson, put up any sort of fight. To put this point into perspective, Ross Taylor was the only other batsman to reach double figures.
Despite losing partner after partner, Williamson continued to stand his ground and counter-attack. But, it was not enough as he was eventually dismissed for 57, which came off 37 deliveries and included eight boundaries.
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Once Williamson had gone, New Zealand’s resistance fizzled out and they were ultimately bowled out for 135.
Willey and Wood took three wickets apiece, while Ben Stokes snapped up two and Adil Rashid claimed one.
McCullum was disappointed to end the tour on a low, and said: “Some of our batting was pretty amateurish. We got into a good position to chase down that total but our application wasn’t quite right. I thought it was a par score on a good wicket so I wasn’t unhappy at half-time, we got off to a good start but weren’t able to go on with partnerships. I always find funny ways to get out and it was a shame not to be able to bat with Kane for longer, he’s such an integral part of our group and he’s been outstanding in every form of the game in the last 18 months.
“I was disappointed not to win the one-day series but we’ve played some very good cricket, introducing new faces and there will be more good cricket to come. Credit to England for playing the same style of cricket like us. It shows us that we need to keep improving and get better. But I’ve been really pleased with how our season has gone, we’ve done some special things.”
Morgan was delighted to have clinched the Twenty20 series, and said: “Coming out and playing in the same fashion as the last few one-day internationals was pleasing. Joe Root, the hunger and determination to cash in when he’s in form is a great example in our changing room. It felt a million miles away at the World Cup but things have turned around so quickly. Everyone has bought into what we’ve wanted to achieve, we have work to do with the ball but the batting has been very pleasing.
“Considering the average age in the group is 24, 25 it makes it very exciting moving down the line. We haven’t seen the best of our group yet. It’s easier now to take on Australia having played like we have here, it reinforces to the guys in the changing room that when we come off we can be dangerous. The spirit of this series has been outstanding, we have been trying to emulate New Zealand, we’ve come close but it’s important not to get carried away. But it’s a start. I certainly think we’ve gone a long way to winning back the public but we have a lot more to give and it’s set up so well now for the Ashes.”
Root was named Man of the Match.