Captain Kane Williamson silenced his critics with a half century as New Zealand defeated England by 12 runs in the fourth match of the T20 tri-series in Wellington Tuesday, severely denting the tourists’ hopes of making the final.
Williamson top-scored with 72 from 46 balls and opener Martin Guptill contributed 65 as the Black Caps battled to a tight victory over England.
The hosts had set a target of 197, and restricted England to 184 for nine in reply.
The result leaves Jos Buttler‘s men without a win in the series after losses to Australia in their previous two matches.
Buttler put the hosts in after winning the toss, hoping an mottled-looking drop-in pitch with huge bald patches would prove unplayable.
But the gamble backfired as the wicket held up and New Zealand’s batsmen finally hit their stride after three straight T20 losses.
“The wicket obviously played a lot better than everyone thought and produced a really good game,” said Buttler, who was standing in as captain for the injured Eoin Morgan.
Williamson said it was a crucial win for New Zealand, who can seal a spot in the final of the triangular series with a win over Australia on Friday in Auckland.
On a personal note, his captain’s knock was also rewarding after he had come under fire for a recent lean spell in the shortest form of the game.
“There’s been a number of occasions recently when I’ve wanted to contribute more, so it was nice to spend some time in the middle today,” he said.
New Zealand’s move to shore up the batting also paid off as former Hong Kong international Mark Chapman made a useful cameo of 20 off 13 on his New Zealand debut.
But the target was still achievable given Westpac Stadium’s small boundaries, and England shrugged off the early loss of Jason Roy as fellow opener Alex Hales took up the cudgels.
Hales blasted three sixes and six fours in 24 balls to depart on 47, and England looked comfortable as they reached 95 for two.
However when a dawdling James Vince was run out by Williamson, it started a steady stream of wickets that stole England’s momentum.
Dawid Malan valiantly tried to revive the innings with 59 off 40 balls, but the only other batsman to offer any resistance was David Willey, whose departure on 21 spelled the end of England’s chances.
The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder – who missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England – is accused of affray along with with two other men.
Stokes appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday alongside Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26.
It follows the altercation in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 last year – several hours after England had played a one-day international against the West Indies in the city.
It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, at which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was also present.
Ali, Stokes and Hale spoke to confirm their names, dates of births, addresses and nationalities.
The clerk read out the charges and all three defendants indicated not guilty pleas.
The full charge sheet shows that Stokes, of Castle Eden, Durham, is accused of affray on the September 25 at Queens Road in Bristol.
He is accused jointly with Ali and Hale of using or threatening unlawful violence towards another.
The charge states that his “conduct was such as would cause a person of reasonable firmness present at the scene to fear for his personal safety”.
The other two defendants face the same charge.
Affray is an either way offence meaning it can be tried at the magistrates court or the crown court. But all three defendants elected to be tried by a jury at the crown court.
District Judge Simon Cooper told the three defendants: “I have decided that your trial will take place at the crown court at Bristol. The first hearing date will be March 12. You will be on bail.”
Without Stokes, England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
Ben Stokes arriving at Bristol Magistrates Court today after being charged with affray.
— Proper Sport (@ProperSport) February 13, 2018
Both teams came into the game without a point on the board and it was the Kiwis who came out on top after putting up 196-5 batting first. In a close chase where England were on track throughout, the hosts ultimately restricted them to 184-9 to make it three losses in as many games for the visitors.
New Zealand are now firmly on track to play Australia in the final of the competition on February 21.
We look at the things we learnt from a high-scoring affair at Wellington.
KANE WILLIAMSON MAKES ENGLAND PAY
The New Zealand skipper had been pretty out of form coming into the match with many even questioning his place in the T20I side. He was given a reprieve before he had even opened his account by England pacer Mark Wood. Wood had all three stumps to aim for after Williamson took off for a quick single off his own bowling but somehow managed to miss the target from 10 feet out.
After that, there was no stopping the elegant right-hander as he showcased some expansive strokes on his way to a quick-fire T20I fifty and his first in 10 innings. He pummeled four huge sixes and as many boundaries in a sparkling 46-ball 72 that guided the Kiwis towards a huge total.
MITCHELL SANTNER SHOWS WHY HE’S NO1
The New Zealand left-arm spinner is the top-ranked T20I bowler in the world for a reason. Santner shared the new-ball duties with Trent Boult and Tim Southee and on a day where almost every bowler was taken for some runs, he was as economical as you could get.
His first three overs went for only 18 runs with the added bonus of Sam Billings’ wicket. He went for some runs in his final over but broke England’s back with the wicket of the set batsman Dawid Malan.
He ultimately finished with excellent figures of 2-29 off his four overs and was a vital catalyst for the Blackcaps’ victory.
MARK WOOD’S OFF DAY
The England pacer might have ended his quota of overs with two wickets but it was a day where nothing went right for him. He first let off Williamson and the Kiwi made England pay heavily in the form of 72 quick runs.
He did not fare well with the ball either and was taken for three sixes and five boundaries as Williamson and Mark Chapman took a liking to his pace.
Wood ultimately went for over 12 runs an over, finishing with figures of 2-51 off his four overs.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) February 13, 2018
JAMES VINCE’S LAZY RUNNING
The England batsman’s summer tour of Australia started off with an excellent knock of 80-odd in the first Ashes Test at Brisbane. That innings was brought to an end by a brilliant run-out by Nathan Lyon.
At Wellington, Vince started excellently with a brilliant straight six and was threatening to form a match-winning partnership with Malan. In the end, his innings came to an end on the same note as it had done in the Tests, with a direct hit finding him short of the crease. This time though, it was simply lazy running from the Englishman and he could have beaten Williamson’s throw had he just put in a dive.