Nottingham : An incredible hundred from Jonny Bairstow (136) led England to a sensational five-wicket win over New Zealand on Day 5 of the second Test and helped them take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three match-series, here on Tuesday.
Chasing a target of 298 runs for victory, England needed 160 in the final session and Jonny Bairstow along with Ben Stokes played sensational counter-attacking innings to take England home in the second Test with plenty of time to spare.
The win takes England’s point percentage to 25 in the World Test Championship table as they continue to distance themselves from the bottom place. Defending champions New Zealand, meanwhile, point percentage slips to 29.17 and are just a spot above England.
Earlier in the day, England had to work hard to pick up the last three wickets of New Zealand’s innings after Daryl Mitchell and co showed great resistance. The hosts’ approach from the get-go in their chase was to go for the win and although there was a small blip in the middle, they counter-attacked brilliantly to script an improbable win.
Starting with an overnight lead of 238 runs and with three wickets left in the bank, the task ahead was clear as daylight for the visitors — add as many runs to the score as possible. And they managed to achieve just that with Daryl Mitchell being the rock and the tail batting around him.
He first put on a crucial 32-run stand with Matt Henry, who chipped in with a handy 18 before being sent back by Stuart Broad. Kyle Jamieson could not trouble the scorers much, getting out for 1 after being done by a short delivery from Broad.
An entertaining partnership between Mitchell and Boult then ensued, with the latter playing some audacious strokes. Boult was finally dismissed after an enterprising knock of 17 by James Anderson while Mitchell remained unbeaten on 62, continuing his dream tour. The visitors managed to add 60 runs, setting England a target of 299.
With the tail delivering, the spotlight was now on New Zealand’s pace attack to deliver the breakthroughs in order to bowl England out. And they did exactly that.
Zak Crawley’s struggles continued as he was nabbed for a duck by Trent Boult. Alex Lees and Ollie Pope then ensured that England did not lose any further wickets heading into lunch. The pacers, though, were much more successful in the second session, striking relatively quickly after the break.
Henry induced an edge off Pope’s bat with a cracker of a delivery to send him back for 18. The massive wicket of the in-form Joe Root followed, with Boult taking a caught and bowled to send him packing for 3. Bowling round the wicket, Southee who was struggling for rhythm, got the well-set Alex Lees for 44, with a ball that held its length.
Stokes and Bairstow now had a massive task at hand to ensure that the floodgates did not open. And the pair batted assuredly for the remainder of the session, with England still 160 runs away from the target. Both Bairstow and Stokes came out all guns blazing after the Tea break. The New Zealand bowlers had no answer to the blitzkrieg that came from the bat of the duo, particularly Bairstow.
He got to a run-a-ball fifty in the first over of the final session and teed off from there. The next three overs saw five maximums coming from the bat of Bairstow as he single-handedly snatched the game that was potentially heading towards a draw. A total of 68 runs came off the first five overs and within no time, he was heading towards triple figures.
Despite Stokes suffering a blow to his knee, he hobbled around to keep Bairstow company. He was very close to breaking the record of Gilbert Jessop to become the fastest Test centurion for England but missed it by a ball, bringing up his ton in 77 balls.
The carnage continued even after he got to his milestone as he picked Bracewell apart for two sixes and a four. Stokes wasn’t one to be left behind as he smashed his way to a fifty off just 55 balls, an ICC report said.
Bairstow eventually fell to Boult after plundering him for consecutive boundaries but had sealed the game for England with a 92-ball 136. Ben Foakes joined his captain in the middle and as he has done often in the series so far, played a handy knock to settle any nerves.
Ben Stokes finished the game off in style with a boundary — almost a carbon copy of his shot at Headingley in 2019 against Australia – as England romped home by five wickets to seal the series 2-0.
Brief scores: New Zealand 553 (Daryl Mitchell 190, Tom Blundell 106; James Anderson 3-62) & 284 (Daryl Mitchell 62 not out, Will Young 56; Stuart Broad 3-70) lost to England 539 (Joe Root 176, Ollie Pope 145; Trent Boult 5-106 ) & 299/5 (Jonny Bairstow 136, Ben Stokes 75 not out; Trent Boult 3-94) by 5 wickets.
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