England put up an unbelievably commanding show in their first ODI since being routed by Bangladesh in the World Cup, en route to a record 210-run triumph. Batting first, England posted a massive 408 for 9 on the board, the first time they had crossed 400, with Jos Buttler and Joe Root striking hundreds and Adil Rashid and skipper Eoin Morgan slamming quick-fire half-centuries. Chasing such a massive score, New Zealand needed Brendon McCullum to fire. However, the pressure of the target got to them and, apart from Ross Taylor, no one made a decent score as the Kiwis folded up for 198.
Root and Buttler played superbly on the day, never allowing the New Zealand bowlers to settle into any kind of rhythm. Buttler, who holds the record for the fastest ODI hundred by an Englishman, joined the list at number two as well, as he smashed a hundred of 66 balls. This now means that both of Buttler's hundreds are the fastest in England's ODI history. Earlier, Root also cracked his hundred taking only 71 deliveries as the two took the game away from New Zealand. Towards the end of the innings, Rashid launched himself into the Kiwi attack bludgeoning 69 from 50, with 7 fours and 2 sixes as England finished on a high.
Earlier in the day, England had a far from auspicious start. Jason Roy hit the first delivery from Trent Boult straight to Martin Guptill at backward point. Alex Hales and Root then added exactly 50 for the second wicket before a Boult bouncer caught Hales off guard. Hales made a run-a-ball 20 representing another failure. It was the partnership between Root and skipper Morgan that really brought the innings back on track. The two eased their way to a 121-run stand with the pitch not offering much assistance. Apart from Boult no one looked threatening, and even the introduction of spin could not change Kiwis' fortunes.
Morgan eased his way to his 50, and was looking good for more, when he was trapped lbw by Mitchell McClenaghan, who went on to concede 93 in his 10 overs. At the other end, Root went on to complete his hundred before falling to Boult for 104, nicking one behind the stumps. Ben Stokes and debutant Sam Billings then fell cheaply as England somewhat stumbled to 202 for 6. There was a danger of England undoing their hard work, especially in the power play, which has often been their nemesis. But, Buttler and Rashid combined forces in a record stand of 177 in merely 17 overs as England crossed 400 for the first time in one-day cricket.
The only way New Zealand were going to win this was through a McCullum special. But, Steven Finn had a mini-revenge for the thrashing he took at Wellington as he cleaned up the Kiwi skipper in the first over. Finn later added Guptill to his kitty and finished with four scalps. Encouraged by his batting stint, Rashid also claimed four wickets. His scalps included the big ones of Kane Williamson who made 45, dangerous wicket-keeper bat Ronchi. Taylor flourished for a while, but there was always going to be only one winner here.
--By A Cricket Correspondent