Santner finishes off thriller after Taylor’s ton


New Zealand 287 for 7 (Taylor 113, Latham 79, Stokes 2-43) beat England 284 for 8 (Buttler 79, Root 71, Santner 2-54) by three wickets
A wonderfully absorbing one-day international which ebbed and flowed throughout was eventually won by New Zealand as they squeezed home by three wickets with four balls to spare despite Ben Stokes’ intervention on his return to international cricket. Mitchell Santner was the hero at the end, hitting 45 off 27 balls, including consecutive sixes off Adil Rashid and finishing the match with another off Chris Woakes to ensure Ross Taylor’s 18th ODI century, and a 178-run stand with Tom Latham, did not go to waste.
Stokes, playing for England for the first time since September 24, was brought back for a second spell in the 38th over, with New Zealand strongly placed, needing 98 off 13 overs with two well-set batsmen, and revived his team when Latham pulled to mid-on and Colin de Grandhomme edged a slower ball behind. Between those scalps Henry Nicholls also departed and when Taylor charged at Rashid, being stumped for superb 113, it appeared England would get home. New Zealand needed 41 off 25 balls with three wickets in hand.
However, the move to keep going with Rashid backfired as Santner twice cleared the leg side and then after the first four balls of the penultimate over from Tom Curran had gone for just four he found a vital boundary over square leg leaving nine off the final over. Santner inside-edge the first ball to fine leg, Woakes sent down a wide, then Santner cleared deep midwicket. It was a thriller.
England’s innings, in which Jos Buttler top-scored with 79 off 63 balls, was not one of their dynamic performances, yet a commendable effort on a slow pitch where few batsmen found fluency. New Zealand were impressive at the death with just 67 coming off the final 10 overs – and 25 of those off the last two – but 284 for 8 looked formidable when the chase was reduced to 27 for 3 by excellent new-ball spells from Woakes, who claimed his 100th ODI wicket when Colin Munro edged a charge, and David Willey.
Buttler had provided a kick to the innings with consecutive sixes off Sodhi, striking wonderfully down the ground, but even he struggled to get the death bowling of Southee and Boult away until a late six off each to take his tally to five. In the end that finish proved vital for New Zealand, who continued their strong recent record of chasing on this ground, but in such a compelling match it was difficult to pick out one defining moment.