England restored some belated respectability in their one-day international series against New Zealand by winning the third and final match by 34 runs at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, on Wednesday.
Although New Zealand had clinched the series with victories at Lord’s in London and the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, the win was a boost for England’s morale before the Champions Trophy started yesterday. The two sides meet again in the eight-nation 50-overs competition during the group stages in Cardiff on June 16.
“Getting a win was very important and I thought we played pretty well,” England captain Alastair Cook said at the trophy presentation. “We haven’t quite got it right in this series, we’ve been operating at about 75 percent. Today, we showed a lot of character and the different balance of the side worked well.”
England owed their competitive total of 287-6 to Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler, who smashed 64 runs off the final three overs.
The pair came together for the final ball of the 46th over after England had labored to 210-5, despite Ian Bell’s 82 from 96 deliveries.
Morgan, struggling for form in the series, started to strike the ball sweetly after a slow start, lofting three sixes in his 49 from 40 balls.
Buttler cracked a whirlwind 47 not out from 16 deliveries, also with three sixes, including two off Tim Southee’s final over.
A six off the last ball of the innings would have given Buttler the world record for the fastest one-day international half-century, but he could manage only two and the 17-ball record set by Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya against Pakistan in 1996 remained intact.
“Jos’ knock was the difference between the sides,” Cook said.
New Zealand made a bright start in pursuit of the victory target, with Martin Guptill, who scored unbeaten centuries in the first two matches, racing to 38 at better than a run a ball, with some firm, assured strokes.
Ross Taylor, the Black Caps’ best batsman then contributed 71, his third half-century of the series, before he was caught on the leg-side boundary trying to hoist a third successive six.
However, New Zealand kept losing wickets at key moments and were dismissed for 253 off 46.3 overs.
England, who rested their two leading bowlers James Anderson and Graeme Swann, will have been heartened by the performances of pacemen Steven Finn and Stuart Broad, who missed the first two matches through injury.
They bowled nine-and-a-half and nine overs respectively, without any apparent problems.
“We were good for the majority of the game, but there were two periods, Buttler’s innings was world class and to concede 76 off four overs, the other part was losing 4-20 through the middle,” New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said. “But other than that our performance was really good and showed if we can execute our plans, we’re a good side.”
England begin their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia tomorrow, while New Zealand face Sri Lanka on Sunday.