As if channelling the rugby team, England’s cricketers followed a stroll with a stumble, going down to a 21-run defeat in the second T20 international against New Zealand at Wellington’s Cake Tin. It was their first loss in seven matches in the format – and a dose of reality for a young squad.
Chasing 177 after choosing to bowl, England lost Jonny Bairstow (for a golden duck) and James Vince with only three on the board, and after that threatened only briefly to build on Friday’s comprehensive win at Hagley Oval.
Central to their demise was some thoughtless batting at a venue whose short square boundaries cry out to be peppered. New Zealand had shown the way, launching 12 sixes, mainly over square leg, midwicket or the covers.
New Zealand beat England by 21 runs to level their T20 series at 1-1 on Sunday in Wellington
New Zealand's Mitchell Santner (C) celebrates taking the wicket of England's Chris Jordan
Dawid Malan's 39 helped England recover from an early struggle but it wasn't enough to win
Yet, one after another, England’s batsmen perished trying to hit down the ground, with Colin de Grandhomme gratefully accepting three simple catches at either long-off or long-on, and a fourth at extra cover.
Throw in a poor display in the field, with four chances going down (five, depending on your mood), and this was a performance to bring Chris Silverwood’s team back down to earth after Christchurch’s early fillip.
Eoin Morgan briefly looked the business, exploiting the tempting square boundaries to hit three sixes, before providing de Grandhomme with the first of his catches.
And there was an eye-catching moment for Dawid Malan, who popped Jimmy Neesham on to the roof over square leg – a monstrous blow, despite the boundary’s proximity. But when Malan fell for 39, trying to hit the leg-spin of Ish Sodhi over long-off, it was 93 for six – and almost curtains.
Chris Jordan provided a shot of adrenaline by hitting 22 in four balls, including three successive sixes, off Sodhi. But left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner followed figures of three for 23 in Christchurch with three for 25. There was no way back.
Jimmy Neesham made 42 off 22 deliveries for the hosts as returned to the side with a bang
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