JOS Buttler’s astonishing hitting transformed England’s fortunes to help set up a 34-run victory over New Zealand in the third and final NatWest Series match at Trent Bridge.
With the series already gone, the best England could do here to restore some self-belief before the start of their Champions Trophy campaign against Australia on Saturday was to avoid a first home whitewash in this format since 2006.
Their struggle to 211 for five after 46 overs, Ian Bell top-scoring with 82, gave them anything but obvious prospects of doing so. But after Buttler’s unbeaten 47 from just 16 balls and Eoin Morgan’s 49 had turned that into 287 for six, they held on to the winning momentum.
New Zealand raced to 69 for one in the tenth over of their reply, and Ross Taylor (71) kept Kiwi hopes alive until he was ninth out in the 43rd over – brilliantly caught, principally by Steven Finn, who ferried an attempt at a third successive six off James Tredwell (three for 51) safely away from the boundary rope and into the hands of Tim Bresnan.
Stuart Broad had broken a hectic opening stand when Luke Ronchi mistimed a pull to mid-on. But it was Tredwell’s breakthrough – with the precious wicket of Martin Guptill, after more than 350 ODI runs against England this year without previously being dismissed – which began the consolidation of Buttler’s outstanding performance.
The England wicketkeeper-batsman’s breathtaking power and invention, in a sequence of 6-4-4-4-0-4 off Kyle Mills, provided the catalyst for a stand of 62 with Morgan in only 22 balls which changed the complexion of the match.
Mitchell McClenaghan, previously so successful in stifling England, was sufficiently rattled to produce a ten-ball over including two wides and two no-balls.
Buttler did not spare Tim Southee either, and had he managed his fourth six from the final ball of the innings, he would have recorded the fastest 50 in ODI history.
His innings was a startling contrast with what had gone before.
The Kiwis faced a significant run chase after all and once Guptill was second out, a classic off-spin dismissal bowled through the gate by Tredwell, England were always favourites.
Cook surprisingly replaced Tredwell with Root, who should have had his first ODI wicket when Buttler missed an obvious stumping but almost immediately got Williamson anyway - lbw pulling.
Colin Munro was caught-behind off Bresnan first ball and Tredwell returned to have Brendon McCullum edging an attempted cut to Buttler.
At 111 for five, New Zealand’s batting resources were already compromised, and although Taylor refused to give up, he could not quite take the contest to the wire as the tourists were eventually all out in 46.3 overs.