Onny Bairstow’s half-century proved in vain as New Zealand completed a fine turnaround to secure a series-level win by six wickets in the fourth T20 at Trent Bridge.
Bairstow’s 73 from 41 balls had given England a flying start, but the Black Caps spinners fought back superbly and restricted the home side to 175 for eight, with Mitchell Santner taking three wickets, including the opener.
The tourists had been outplayed in the first two T20s but kept their series hopes alive with a comprehensive win at Edgbaston on Sunday, securing a 2-2 draw as forties from Tim Seifert, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman led a successful fightback with almost three overs to spare, although teenager Rehan Ahmed took two wickets in his first England appearance on home soil.
Bairstow was expected to keep wicket while captain Jos Buttler tried to rest for the series finale, but had to return the gloves after feeling pain in his right shoulder while batting, and England went with a player who appears to be in fine form, no risk He will play in the World Cup defense next month.
This was Bairstow’s first innings at Nottingham since his remarkable Test 136 over the same opposition here last summer and he picked up where he left off, hitting Matt Henry for a flat six as part of an early attack at short leg. Page limit. That was one of half a dozen maximums, along with five fours, and when England’s fifty came midway through the fifth over, the opener himself had 43 of them.
Like last week in Manchester, Bairstow seemed to have every chance of joining an elite club of English three-format centurions, but where lack of power had been his enemy, here it was temptation that saw the 33-year-old caught on the fence of Daryll Mitchell trying , sending Santner into the stands for a second consecutive ball.
With his early exit, Bairstow has at least cleared the stage for a narrative-soaked partnership between Harry Brook and Dawid Malan. Ahead of that game, head coach Matthew Mott had given the clearest indication yet that the World Cup door was still open for Brook, emphasizing the “makeshift” part of England’s 15-man squad rather than selector Luke Wright when he did so last month announced.
Malan was therefore the player under the most pressure after chasing a four-ball duck to a thumping two-for-11 in a 200-plus Edgbaston chase at Old Trafford on Friday night.
For a brief period it looked as if his innings here would, in time, turn into one of the late-game varieties that justify such dawdling starts. Brooks’ arrival at the other end had galvanized Malan as he moved from 10 to 24 in six balls, including three boundaries after a particularly expensive over from Kyle Jamieson.
However, two overs later he was on his way, caught in the deep by the big Quick, who had done well after initially losing the ball in the setting sun. The consolation was that by this point Brook had also departed with an uncharacteristically calm four from eight balls (the sort of innings for which Malan could be crucified), but his own score of 26 from 21 will do little to settle the emerging debate calm the ODI leg, which begins on Friday with a full England squad.
It was only when Liam Livingstone drilled Matt Henry’s final throw straight to a fielder that the New Zealand seamers took their first wicket of the evening, at a total cost of 105 runs, but their trio of spinners had kept England at bay by a total of six runs to 68.
That bodes well for England’s decision to bring Ahmed into the team, while Ben Duckett might have been the more obvious rotation, and with New Zealand having advanced to 73 for one by the end of the powerplay, the teenager’s introduction actually provided much-needed breakthrough.
To be fair, his contribution was the easier half of a great run-out created by Luke Wood, who rallied on the run and torpedoed through the air like a figure skater before smashing in from the boundary and Mitchell left ground behind him.
Both he and Seifert had been upgraded in the absence of the rested Devon Conway, but the first ball of Ahmed’s second over spelled the end of the substitute opener, a tame chip back to the bowler ensuring a disappointing end to a fine innings of 48 off 32 and gave England briefly hope.
However, Phillips, the tourists’ most consistently destructive player throughout the series, continued the attack against all three England spinners, Ahmed drilling through extra cover to take the reply to more than three figures, while Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid each for Monstrous sixes were hit down the leg side.
A powerful top edge from Brydon Carse took the target to an even 50 and when Ahmed struck again to end Phillips’ stay it was below a run-a-ball. The damage was done when Rachin Ravindra scored the winning runs with 16 balls left.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/cricket/jonny-bairstow-england-new-zealand-t20-cricket-series-b1105085.html Jonny Bairstow doesn’t knock enough as a good fightback in New Zealand ensures the T20 series ends level