Jonny Bairstow’s superb 104 helped England beat New Zealand by seven wickets and win the one-day series 3-2.
A dismal start cost New Zealand who, despite 67 from Mitchell Santner and 55 from Henry Nicholls, were bowled out for 223 in Christchurch.
Bairstow dominated the bowlers, smashing nine fours and six sixes as he thrashed a century from just 58 balls.
Alex Hales, replacing the injured Jason Roy, made 61 before Ben Stokes scored an unbeaten 26 to seal victory.
England, building towards the 2019 World Cup on home soil, have now won six successive ODI series.
Chris Woakes excelled with the ball for England, finishing with figures of 3-32 without conceding a boundary from his 10 overs, and his sharpness was backed up by the spinners.
Accurate with the ball and showing a controlled aggression with the bat, England look a settled one-day side and, as shown with Hales coming in for Roy after he suffered a back spasm, they have good depth available to them.
They looked assured in their pursuit of New Zealand’s total and played smartly, led by Bairstow as he registered his second century of the series.
England now travel to Hamilton for a tour match beginning on 13 March, before the two-match Test series starts on 22 March.
Bairstow powers England to victory
Bairstow’s performance in this series – he has scored 302 runs at an average of 60.40 – has surely settled his place at the top of the order, after seven years of playing in every position from one to six.
If England’s bowlers were miserly, then Bairstow was the opposite. Taking on the senior role in the absence of Roy, he was aggressive and confident as he led the chase on a flat pitch.
He partnered well with Hales, the two taking sharp singles, before Bairstow began to cut loose. He cut and swept the spinners with regularity, reaching his half-century from 38 balls.
After achieving one milestone, Bairstow stepped up a gear. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi was dispatched into the crowd for consecutive sixes as Bairstow plundered 22 from one over to near his century.
Pace from Trent Boult was pulled for four, while Santner’s left-arm spin was swept for six. Bairstow reached three figures from 58 balls, moving from 50 to 100 in just 20 deliveries.
It was the fastest century by a England opener in one-day cricket and the third fastest by any England player. It was almost a surprise when he fell, hitting his stumps as he attempted to cut Boult.
Hales, opening the batting for the first time since September, looked in good touch. He played a back seat to Bairstow and was left frustrated as he was caught at mid-wicket by Kane Williamson.
Eoin Morgan fell for eight as he sent a long hop from Sodhi straight to Colin de Grandhomme on the boundary, but Joe Root’s 23 and an entertaining 18-ball cameo from Stokes saw England home with 17.2 overs remaining.
Black Caps struggle with England accuracy
Ross Taylor, who led New Zealand to victory in the fourth ODI, was ruled out with a recurrence of a thigh injury and his stability was missed as the hosts stuttered through their innings.
Man of the series Woakes has set the tone for England throughout the series, taking a wicket in his first two overs in every game. It was no different in Christchurch as he struck with his third ball, enticing Colin Munro into top-edging a drive to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
New Zealand seemed to struggle to read the pitch. Kane Williamson chopped on after being outsmarted by a change of angle from Mark Wood, Tom Latham offered a simple catch off Adil Rashid and Mark Chapman was bowled by Moeen Ali for a duck as the hosts floundered.
Once opener Martin Guptill fell for 47, New Zealand looked close to subsiding. It was left to Nicholls and Santner to rescue the innings as they came together at 93-6.
They timed their partnership well, first being cautious against Moeen and Rashid to make their way to half-centuries, before accelerating. Nicholls hit Root’s off-spin for six but he top-edged Tom Curran to square leg at an inopportune moment.
England were lax at times in the field, with Moeen dropping Santner on 57, but they improved in the final overs. Hales adjusted well to catch Santner in the deep, before Bairstow took a superb, one-handed diving catch on the boundary to dismiss Tim Southee for 10.
Despite Nicholls and Santner’s efforts, New Zealand were not able to recover from a poor start. The tail were left struggling at the end against Curran’s variations and the home side were bowled out for the first time in nine matches at the Hagley Oval.
While the Black Caps end this series with questions over their batting line-up, England’s bowling attack looks secure. They are a far cry from the team that arrived in New Zealand for the World Cup three years ago.
‘Batting of the highest class’ – what they said
Former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney on Test Match Special: “New Zealand’s middle order looked to me as though they didn’t know how to defend spin bowling, let alone attack it. Chapman’s dismissal was awful.
“Jonny Bairstow’s batting was of the highest class. It was clean hitting. He cut, he swept, he drove. No bowler was been able to contain him.”
England captain Eoin Morgan, speaking to Test Match Special: “It’s probably been our best performance in this series. I thought the boys were incredible, really. The bowling unit set the tone from ball one.
“Reproducing things you do every day, under pressure, is someone that we do as professional sportsmen. Doing it in a must-win game is that bit more important.
“We’re certainly not a complete side. We do need to learn from each game. We haven’t necessarily played a perfect game this winter but we’ve shown a lot of fight and character.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: “We lacked discipline with the bat. We didn’t get a complete performance all series but England were outstanding, they are a very good one-day unit and deserved to win this series.”
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/43353218