England batsman Joe Root plays a reverse scoop shot against
New Zealand during the second one-day international in
Napier last night. Photo by Reuters.
New Zealand squandered first dibs on the best batting
block in the country yesterday; England was not about to follow
suit and so the one-day international series goes to a decider
at Eden Park on Saturday.
Chasing an insufficient 269, England got the job done for the
loss of two wickets, with 14 balls to spare.
Once England's openers Alastair Cook (78) and Ian Bell got
into their work, followed by half-centuries from Jonathan
Trott (65 not out) and the mightily impressive Joe Root (79
not out), the touring side was always on track to draw level
in the series.
However, the most significant event of the day, to home eyes
anyway, happened in the first half of the match.
It has been a while since a New Zealand partnership has been
so loaded with symbolism as that which underpinned their
Captain Brendon McCullum and the man he replaced, Ross
Taylor, shared a rollicking 100-run stand in just 53 balls
for the fifth wicket.
McCullum's 74 from 36 deliveries did the bulk of the damage,
but Taylor stayed on to complete an emotional return to form
with his seventh ODI ton. Their good work was badly let down
as the last six wickets fell for 26 runs, in 25 balls.
Considering all the assumptions that things cannot possibly
be good between Taylor and McCullum after the shambolic
handling of the captaincy change - a point both have
repeatedly denied - their rapport was under some scrutiny.
They pushed the singles hard, chivvied ones into twos,
encouraged each other and, once he had his eye in, McCullum
simply took off.
He clobbered four sixes to go with nine fours. His most
remarkable shot, a six over long on off spin bowler Graeme
Swann, was completed as he slipped over.
Going into the final 10 overs, New Zealand was 166 for four.
The next three overs produced 58 as McCullum became a blur of
He was comfortably on course to eclipse New Zealand's fastest
ODI 100 - 67 balls by Craig McMillan against Australia in
Hamilton in 2007 - when he holed out to long on, departing to
a standing ovation.
Taylor hurried across to give him a personal ''`well done,
mate'' on his way off.
It continued a run of rattling form for McCullum, who has
made 253 runs off 160 balls in five limited-overs innings
against England in the last 12 days.
By contrast, Taylor has been slow to get his international
career going again following his break after losing the
Yesterday, Taylor took 10 balls to get off the mark, steadily
worked himself into some touch but, having got to 50 in 81
balls slammed Stuart Broad into the crowd at mid wicket.
The second 50 took 35 balls, followed by a raising of the
arms and salute to a rapturous crowd.
He was out moments later - 117 balls, nine fours and that
six, over 181 minutes - after an innings full of importance,
not only personally but with the first test in Dunedin in
England's new ball men, Jimmy Anderson and Steve Finn, were
bang on the job early on.
Veteran seamer Anderson, who on Sunday eclipsed the record of
Ian Botham to become the highest wicket-taker for England,
was rewarded with five wickets.