Joe Root’s youthful invention and James Anderson’s mature expertise were prime factors as England levelled their ODI series against New Zealand at 1-1.
Anderson was outstanding with the ball and had figures of five for 34 as the hosts made 269 all out, featuring Ross Taylor’s seventh ODI hundred and 74 from Brendon McCullum.
Then Root’s career-best 79 not out was the pick of three England half-centuries as the tourists managed a comfortable chase to win by eight wickets.
They now head for a decider in Auckland on Saturday and captain Alastair Cook, who along with Jonathan Trott also topped 50, was delighted with such a telling contribution from one of the youngest batsman. “That is a good sign,” he said. “You always want these new guys pushing the seniors for places.”
Root has made his international debut in all formats over the last two months. Asked if the 22-year-old has surprised him with how quickly he has flourished, Cook said: “Yes, he has.
“He came in today when we needed seven runs an over, and played very well. The way he has handled himself in international cricket so far has been very good.
“A lot of playing international cricket is about temperament, and he’s certainly shown the right attitude and been able to handle pressure.”
Root joined Trott when more than 120 runs were still needed and went on to dominate their unbroken partnership.
Also praising his bowlers, Cook added: “I thought the way Steven Finn and James Anderson really set that tone, the first 12 overs were probably the best I can remember from our bowlers. We put them right on the back foot. McCullum got them up to a defendable total, but I thought if we kept wickets in hand we were very comfortable in chasing it.
“It was a really good performance the way we bounced back from the other day because, obviously, the pressure was on us to deliver when you’re 1-0 down in a three-match series.”
Black Caps skipper McCullum said: “We didn’t have enough runs and also weren’t able to get any sustained period of pressure [with the ball] to bring wickets.
“There were a few areas where we were short. But I thought England’s new-ball bowling, end-of-innings bowling and also their batting were outstanding.”
One consolation was Taylor’s first substantial innings since returning to the fold after losing the captaincy and falling out with coach Mike Hesson. McCullum added: “I’m really pleased for Ross that he got a score and it’s disappointing we weren’t able to get a win for him. It’s great to see him back in form.”