Bowled Over – England Clinch Series – By Luqman Liaqat

England sealed the series in the third and final one-day international with a five-wicket victory over New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland.

Steve Finn led the way in brilliant fashion as he finished with figures of 3-27, as the hosts were dismissed for 185 in only 43.5 overs despite Brendon McCullum’s explosive innings of 79 off 68 balls.

Skipper Alaistair Cook started the chase in solid fashion, he scored 46 helping the tourists reach the target with relative ease.

Tim Southee’s impressive bowling reading (3-48) did little to interrupt the comfortable win.

The three lion’s new-bowling pair made immediate inroads into the Black Caps batting line-up during the first powerplay, leaving them reeling on 18-3. Finn had BJ Watling caught at second slip by Graeme Swann off his fourth ball and followed it up by removing Hamish Rutherford for just two. In between the Finn wickets, James Anderson had Kane Williamson (7) edging behind.

Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot made a mini recovery with a partnership of 53 for the fourth wicket. Both the batsmen fell in the space of nine deliveries during the 23rd and 25th overs, Elliot was run out after Taylor sent him back when the pair were searching for a second run to fine-leg and Taylor himself was caught behind by Jos Butler off Stuart Broad.

The Hot-spot replay showed no contact with the bat for Taylor wicket however, the third-umpire backed up his on-field colleague’s call as the New Zealanders slumped to 67-5.

Again it was left to McCullum to boost his team’s batting effort; in the batting powerplay he pulled Finn for two fours before flat-batting him for a maximum over long-off.

The lower order provided no support to McCullum, as Andre Ellis top-edged Broad (2-38) to fine-leg and Chris Woakes wrapped Kyle Mills on the pads in the next over leaving the score on 150-9.

McCullum hit two meaty sixes off Swann before holing out at deep mid-wicket to Anderson giving the spinner his second wicket meaning the hosts innings ended on 185-all out with 37 unused deliveries.

England encountered very few problems when chasing down the small target, openers Cook and Ian Bell put things firmly on track. Bell went for 24 when he mis-pulled Ellis at deep midwicket leaving England on 42-1 inside 7 overs.

Cook and Jonathan Trott’s partnership of 69 for the second wicket steadied the chase. In the 21st and 23rd overs Southee struck twice as England’s chase (112-3) took a slight wobble. Both batsmen were caught behind to loose-shots by the wicket-keeper.

But a stand of 56 between Eoin Morgan (39 off 24 balls) and Joe Root settled the issue, Morgan’s innings saw strong driving off Southee before lifting a huge six over mid-wicket and he also struck one off Nathan McCullum over long-on.

The dangerous left-hander Morgan lost his wicket swinging to Mills at fine-leg off Ellis and an over later Butler edged behind to Watling to give Southee his third wicket with only 16 runs left for victory (171-5).

Root again played a composed and mature innings of 28 from 56 balls as he took England home with 12.3 overs still remaining.

The win secures England first ODI series triumph in New Zealand since 1992 leaving them in strong stride ahead of the test series beginning in Dunedin on the March 6.

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