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Santner, Neesham help New Zealand level series

Pius Orinya

Nov. 03, 2019

First ball of the chase, expecting Tim Southee's delivery to outswing more than it did, Jonny Bairstow chipped the delivery straight to mid on. Daryl Mitchell accepted the catch easy. It was much in contrast to how England were fluffing the simple chances when they were on the field. James Vince, who had dropped three of those catches, didn't make his day any better with the bat either, as he departed soon after and left England reeling at 3 for 2 in the chase.
Through the entire duration of their chase, England never managed to have an upper hand in the contest. The closest they came to keeping themselves level was when Eoin Morgan was putting a display of his silky yet powerful touch. He hit three boundaries and as many sixes through the course of his 17-ball stay, collecting 32 runs in the process, but found himself back in the dressing room even before the powerplay could end, failing to clear the long on boundary off Mitchell Santner.
The spin duo of Santner and Ish Sodhi proved quite effective in the middle overs as the English batters constantly struggled to get the timing right, and one after another kept holing out to the fielders in the deep. Sam Billings and Sam Curran too fell for single digits. Malan managed to hit a few massive sixes - including one over the Westpac Stadium roof - but was eventually caught by a forward-diving Martin Guptill in the deep.
Even as the scoring rate was healthy, the regular fall of wickets had reduced the visitors to 93 for 6 in 11.3 overs, with the possibility of a win stretching as far as it did in the contest.
With the odds staked against them, Chris Jordan opted to cut loose with a flurry of slogs, and in a space of four balls, smacked Ish Sodhi for three sixes and a four. By the end of the 15th over, the equation was further reduced to 49 off 30. Jordan's one-dimensional approach threatened what looked like a smooth ride for New Zealand but couldn't do much more. He too, much like the other batters, holed out in the deep.
The rest in the lower order couldn't do much and eventually folded up for 155, falling 21 runs short of New Zealand's total. Santner returned with three wickets while Sodhi, Southee and Lockie Ferguson bagged a brace each. All of England's batters, except one, were out caught. For New Zealand though, Tim Seifert, Martin Guptill, James Neesham and Southee were given reprieves. Only Neesham, of those, managed to do enough damage thereafter though.
New Zealand, despite losing wickets at regular intervals, managed a reasonably healthy start after being put into bat. Sam Curran proved difficult to score off but debutant Saqib Mahmood had a tough welcome to the attack, with the openers slamming him for 14 runs off his first over. Patrick Brown had it even worse - being taken for 17 off his his first. And by the end of the powerplay, led by Guptill's assault, the hosts had cruised to 53 for 1.
There were periods when New Zealand pressed ahead, when Colin de Grandhomme smashed away to a 12-ball 28, or when Ross Taylor was playing some delightful strokes. However, England kept their charge in control by picking wickets at regular intervals.
The most impressive phase for them, however, was when Chris Jordan returned to bowl in the death overs. He mixed his pace well and was disciplined with the execution of his lines and lengths to outfox the batters. He conceded only two runs and dismissed Taylor and Santner in the 18th over to keep New Zealand's assault in check. Neesham, who was playing his first T20I since January 2017, hammered a few big blows en route his 22-ball 542 from the other end to take the hosts to 176 for 8, a total which seemed slightly below par, especially given the kind of start they had got. However, that was not to be as New Zealand managed to level the five-match series 1-1.
Brief Scores : New Zealand 176/8 in 20 overs (James Neesham 42, Martin Guptill 41; Chris Jordan 3-23, Sam Curran 2-22) beat England 155 in 19.5 overs (Dawid Malan 39, Chris Jordan 36; Mitchell Santner 3-25, Tim Southee 2-25) by 21 runs
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