15th over: England 92-2 (Malan 43, Stokes 41). Glenn Phillips comes on to bowl the first over of spin of the afternoon, a possibly welcome change of pace from a New Zealand perspective after some expensive overs. Some nudged singles mark a slight gear change down – until Stokes goes down on one knee and flays one through deep midwicket for four.
14th over: England 85-2 (Malan 41, Stokes 36). Stokes is strike-hogging at the minute and in the mood, but the parsimonious Lister gives him less to play with. Two dots and a single are followed by a lovely swivel-pull for four by Malan.
13th over: England 79-2 (Malan 36, Stokes 25). A bit of brute force from Stokes draws some cheers from a hitherto fairly quiet crowd, clobbering a short-ish delivery from Ferguson in front of square for four. Another four swiftly follows, but this one is lucky, a leading edge just evading the catcher at backward point. Stokes than hacks to leg again for two before a sumptuous one-handed lofted drive for four. England’s Test captain is on the charge, and against some 90mph bowling.
12th over: England 64-2 (Malan 36, Stokes 20). Stokes charges Lister, but the bowler sees him coming and bangs it in a bit shorter and the batter can only hack away a single square on the legside. Smart from the bowler, and an economical over yields only a single.
11th over: England 63-2 (Malan 36, Stokes 19). The all-lefty affair ends swiftly, as the right-arm Ferguson comes on at the Vauxhall End. A slightly risky single starts the over. With powerplay No 1 done, that batters work some singles until Stokes clips beyond a diving mid-on for four. Ferguson finds a bit of bounce mind, of which there’s now more around than there is swing. That’s a fairly effortless 50-partnership up too.
10th over: England 55-2 (Malan 34, Stokes 13). Ben Lister, in his second ODI, comes on for Jamieson, which means we have two left-armers bowling at two left-handers. Lister starts well, not dropping too short and maintaining his line, though he strays a bit with his final ball that Malan belts to backward point where Phillips parries – that will have smarted a bit – and they run a single. Phillips goes off to get some frozen peas on that.
9th over: England 53-2 (Malan 33, Stokes 12). Better from Boult, almost prompting Stokes to chop on from one delivery, and generally finding a better line, which possibly prompts a bit of a mind-scramble from Malan when he sets off for a single that’s not on and has to hurry back. He makes it.
“Perhaps when Buttler asks his team to play with more freedom and aggression he could make sure he does it when Root is out of the room?” harrumphs Jonathan McKinley. “Unlike many of his fellow batters, it is not ‘freedom and aggression’ that have made Root the outstanding cricketer that he (still) is. I’d just let Root be Root and watch him deliver the ODI 50s and 100s of which he is still undoubtedly capable.” It’s a funny one isn’t it, because Root has certainly added more freedom and aggression, and unorthodoxy, to his red-ball game – to productive effect – but looks less at home with such aggression in ODIs at the minute.
8th over: England 51-2 (Malan 31, Stokes 11). This outfield is nice and quick if you get your timing right and Malan effortlessly adds four more with an on-drive that pierces the in-field, following it up by punishing a wide ball outside off with a forceful square cut to the boundary to bring up England’s 50. He’s making his World Cup case in this series and no mistake. Another fumble behind the stumps from Latham ensues, this off a challenging away-swinger that Malan doesn’t get close to an edge to.
7th over: England 42-2 (Malan 23, Stokes 11). Boundaries continue to flow freely, Stokes getting a tickle down legside off Boult, which is sufficient to go for four, before a more obviously attacking crack on the offside is cut off at mid-off.
6th over: England 36-2 (Malan 22, Stokes 6). A bit of that requested aggression coming from England now. A well-timed punch through the covers and a belligerent pull to the ropes bring consecutive boundaries for Malan off Jamieson, who began the over with a wide. Stokes is discomforted, though, when trying to turn Jamieson off his pads through the legsides and top-ends one up in the air in front of him but the bowler can’t reach it.
5th over: England 25-2 (Malan 13, Stokes 5). Boult strays into Malan’s pads to give him an easy single before Stokes gets off the mark with a neat clip through midwicket for four – all timing, little force, that. Malan adds the second boundary of the over with a crunching square cut. England’s most productive over so far, and Boult’s worst.
4th over: England 14-2 (Malan 8, Stokes 0). It’s overcast out there at the minute, which is aiding swing, and England are forced to be watchful. The tall right-armer Jamieson, moving it into Stokes, keeps him pinned back and there’s only one from the over.
3rd over: England 13-2 (Malan 7, Stokes 0). “Root needs a score here” is not a sentence we have cause to type much, but we do at the moment, and he’ll have enjoyed the crisp square cover drive for four off Boult that gets him off the mark. But Boult will have enjoyed his comeback more, bowling him when Root drives at a wideish slanting delivery and inside edges it back on to the timber. England, and Root, continue to look wobbly at the top of the order.
Boult strikes again, and Root’s lean run continues, bowled off an inside edge.
2nd over: England 9-1 (Malan 7, Root 0). Jamieson, who struggled in Cardiff, has the new ball from the Pavilion End, and begins by offering Malan a tasty clip off the legs, which he duly dispatches to the boundary. Jamieson tightens things up subsequently, and England have a modest nine from two.
1st over: England 3-1 (Malan 1, Root 0). Boult gives New Zealand the perfect start, seeing off Bairstow with a first-baller. England are away with a bye, clumsily conceded by a Latham fumble behind the stumps after some extravagant away-seam movement. A wide down legside greets Malan’s first ball on strike, followed by a quick single.
Boult strikes first ball! New Zealand’s plan is bowled to and works, Bairstow flicking nonchalantly and high off his pads towards shortish square leg, where Conway takes a fine catch to his left.
Out come the players …
Injury news – more back spasm woe for Jason Roy, whose position in the team has been hanging by a thread anyway, without this. New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner has a knacked knee, which is why he’s sitting this one out.
England: Malan, Bairstow, Root, Stokes, Buttler (wk, capt), Moeen, Livingstone, Curran, Woakes, Atkinson, Topley.
New Zealand: Young, Conway, Nicholls, Mitchell, Latham (wk, capt), Phillips, Ravindra, Jamieson, Ferguson, Southee, Bolt.
Tom Latham once again calls right and the Black Caps once again opt to chase. The left-arm medium pacer Ben Lister comes in for New Zealand joining the returning Kyle Jamieson in the attack, while England bring back Dawid Malan and Chris Woakes for Harry Brook and David Willey. The Brook-as-opener experiment is parked for today, then, with case not proven yet.
“I’ve encouraged everyone to be even more positive and aggressive,” he chirps, unsurprisingly.
Some overdue grassroots cricket news:
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Morning everyone, and let’s hope the weather is kinder to England’s and New Zealand’s men today than it was to England’s and Sri Lanka’s women yesterday, not that last week’s vicious heatwave was particularly kind to anyone. Nonetheless, cricket was played through it and, in this series, England and New Zealand go into today’s third ODI at the Oval at one thrashing piece, hot on the heels of their two-thrashings-each T20 series. It’s dry and partly cloudy out in That London today, so here’s hoping.
England should have their tails up after responding to a lacklustre performance in Cardiff with an ultimately convincing win on the outskirts of Southampton, even if the top order’s failure to fire is a concern. However Liam Livingstone, in whom I expressed some doubt on Friday’s OBO, has since demonstrated how little I know with two wonderfully explosive innings – two of his best knocks for England – and the sometimes overlooked perennials Reece Topley and David Willey came to the party at the Rose Bowl with the ball.
English spirits have also been lifted by Jofra Archer being back in the area, turning up in the nets yesterday with Andrew Flintoff in tow for a limber-up that has sparked optimism that he might be able to play some sort of role in the World Cup.
Since Sunday New Zealand have named their provisional squad for next month’s shindig in India, including a recovering Kane Williamson and 2019 star Jimmy Neesham but not finding space for the free-hitting Finn Allen or the paceman Adam Milne. They kick off the tournament against England in Ahmedabad of course, so here we go again for dress rehearsal No 3.
Play starts at 12.30pm BST.