England fluff their lines as Kiwis draw level
The safe hands of Colin de Grandhomme proved crucial as New Zealand drew level with England in their best-of-five Twenty20 international series in Wellington.
While De Grandhomme pouched all four skied balls that went his way, England were left to rue an uncomfortable day in the field with six spilled chances including three by James Vince.
Vince had starred in the series-opening win in Christchurch on Friday with a half-century but he shelled three of England’s five dropped catches as the Black Caps posted 176-8.
Martin Guptill at the top of the innings smashed 41 off 28 deliveries, while Jimmy Neesham belted 42 off 22, including four sixes, before he was removed on the final ball of the innings.
De Grandhomme also pushed the pace, facing only 12 balls for a whirlwind 28 to set up the 21-run victory.
Saqib Mahmood took 1-46 on his international debut after replacing Tom Curran in the only change to England’s line-up while Lewis Gregory had a wicket with his first delivery in international cricket – the first Englishman to do so in this format since Joe Denly, who the Somerset all-rounder has replaced in the side.
England in reply looked comfortable at 91-4 in the 11th over before New Zealand removed the remaining six wickets to end the innings with a ball to spare.
Mitchell Santner claimed 3-25 while Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi took two wickets apiece.
England captain Eoin Morgan said it was easy to analyse the reasons for the loss, and the issues were repairable.
“We dropped catches and we continued to lose wickets,” he said.
“We need to keep the attacking mindset. I think it’s important to make mistakes, but I think the most important part is to learn from them.”
After England lost Johnny Bairstow first ball, and Vince in the second over, Morgan (32) and Dawid Malan (39) set about rebuilding the innings.
But when Morgan gave De Grandhomme his first catch, the wickets fell regularly with only Chris Jordan (36 off 19) providing any resistance at the lower part of the batting order.
Malan fell to an exceptional diving catch by Guptill who also accounted for the wicket of Jordan.
The England batsman had clobbered leg-spinner Sodhi for three sixes, injecting fresh life into the contest, but Santner stopped the carnage by dismissing the batsman and effectively ending the contest.
“When the fielders are backing the bowlers up, it makes it that much easier,” said man-ofthe-match Santner.
“We just needed to improve a little bit in all three aspects [from Christchurch],” he added. The third match takes place in Nelson on Tuesday.
Eoin Morgan’s team dropped as many as five catches in the Wellington T20, which the hosts won by 21 runs
New Zealand’s Ish Sodhi, right, took two wickets against England in Wellington