Ben Stokes stars as England beat New Zealand

Cricket
Ben Stokes celebrates passing half century
Ben Stokes celebrates passing half century

Ben Stokes bagged top billing with an unbeaten half-century as England cruised to a series-levelling six-wicket win over New Zealand.

Stokes' landmark performance, in just his second match back from a five-month absence after being arrested outside a Bristol nightclub in September, inevitably overshadowed all else at Mount Maunganui.

England got ahead and stayed there thanks to the exemplary fielding of David Willey and Jason Roy in a home innings of 223 all out which featured four run-outs.

Stokes (63no) and Eoin Morgan (62) then took over in a stand of 88 to set up the win with more than 12 overs to spare and leave this one-day international series at 1-1.

Stokes, who also took two wickets and effected two run-outs as half-centuries from Martin Guptill (50) and Mitch Santner (63no) failed to keep New Zealand competitive, might have departed for nought when he himself was short of his ground as Colin de Grandhomme's side-foot at the stumps trickled wide.

He needed no further fortune on his way to a 54-ball 50, containing six fours and one brutal straight six off Trent Boult, while Morgan survived two half-chances on 27 and 40 - caught-behind off a gloved pull at Lockie Ferguson and then an even tougher one at cover off Tim Southee.


New Zealand v England ODI Series odds - Sky Bet
6/4 New Zealand
8/15 England


Before then, De Grandhomme's wonderful catch at midwicket as Joe Root followed Roy's early departure off Boult, was at least the equal of any of England's brilliance.

After Jonny Bairstow upper-cut the pace of Ferguson straight into the hands of third-man, Morgan and Stokes seized control of the chase. Morgan fell caught-and-bowled to Colin Munro before the job was done, but Stokes and Jos Buttler predictably kept the accelerator down.

Chris Woakes had put the hosts in immediate trouble, after Morgan won the toss on a cloudy afternoon. First, Munro edged an attempted drive behind - much as he had in the series opener on Sunday, but this time from the crease; then Mark Chapman, on his Kiwi debut in this format at number three in place of injured captain Kane Williamson, mis-pulled and fell to a very good running catch by Willey as he backtracked from square-leg.

Willey produced an even better moment in the field when he dived to stop one at point and then flung in the return for Buttler to gather and run out Ross Taylor.

Guptill had to work hard for his 84-ball 50, only to fall almost immediately afterwards to the first of Roy's two catches in as many overs. He dived forward to hold a flat slog-sweep off Moeen Ali on the midwicket boundary, and then leapt high to his right to hold another blinder - Henry Nicholls cutting Stokes this time.

When Tom Latham then found short third-man off Moeen, New Zealand were 108 for six in the 30th over. There were three more run-outs to come, courtesy of Bairstow and Stokes - De Grandhomme, Southee and finally number 11 Boult all contributing to their own downfall.

In between, Santner played a fine hand. Belying his position at number eight, he took on the responsibility to at least scramble the hosts above 200 with his maiden half-century in this format - appropriately in his 50th match.

Ferguson escaped a glaring run-out chance on eight when Roy's failure to first gather cleanly at cover and then hit the stumps was the only blot on England's highly-polished showing. The ninth-wicket stand went on to realise 69, but it was never likely to be enough.

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