RIVERSIDE: England beat New Zealand by 114 runs
Another day, another thrashing of New Zealand by England at the lovely Riverside ground on Sunday. A capacity crowd revelled in a run feast led by Kevin Pietersen and well supported by Paul Collingwood, Owais Shah and Ian Bell that totalled 307 for five, and resulted in a massive victory margin by 114 runs with eight overs to spare.
Collingwood completed a terrific day on his home ground when he took the last four wickets in eight balls to add to his 64 off 64 balls and a fine run-out.
Pietersen’s 110 runs from 112 balls was his sixth in ODI cricket, and his first in this country. It was arguably his best, and he dominated the game so completely that it made a mockery of a few failings in recent months when he pleaded a fatigue of which, curiously, there has been no mention in recent weeks since the financial swamping of the market by Twenty20 cricket.
Other than a brief flurry from Brendon McCullum in the first eight overs in which he hit 36 off 27 balls, New Zealand surrendered so tamely that the result made a nonsense of world rankings that place them fourth to England’s sixth. Totals over 300 win most games, but the tourists’s ill discipline with the ball – 10 no-balls and nine wides – seemed to knock the stuffing out of them and was reflected by their batting body language.
McCullum went at the start of the ninth over at 52 for one, but with no effort made by the rest of the top order, only 15 runs came from the next nine overs, with no effort by Jamie How or James Marshall to exploit the power play overs in which nine men must be in the ring.
Marshall was then run out by Collingwood before weak nothing shots from How, Ross Taylor and Scott Styris precipitated a slump to 116 for five in the 29th over, with the asking rate now over nine an over. All credit to the home bowlers, particularly Stuart Broad with 8-2-16-2, but it was a pretty spineless effort from a side that somehow must show some fight in the four remaining games, starting at Edgbason on Wednesday.
There was a lively start to play after England were put in to bat, and Ian Bell was apparently caught behind first ball off a good one from Kyle Mills, but it was a no-ball. Bell hit a four off the free hit and narrowly avoided being caught at mid-wicket when he went aerial for another four in an over worth 12.
The Warwickshire batsman then hit a glorious straight six off Tim Southee and dominated an opening partnership of 49 with Luke Wright. The Sussex all-rounder’s role as a pinch hitter never came off as he managed 11 runs in 11 overs before he gave a cach to mid-off the first time he tried a big hit.
Pietersen asked to bat at three, and so he should on the principle that the sooner your best batsman is at the crease, the better. He knew he had ample time to play himself in, and had helped Bell to take the score to 84 when, not for the first time, the pair were involved in a run-out with his partner the victim.
He hesitated following an appeal for lbw, and a good direct hit on the bowlers’ stumps by Taylor found him a yard short. His 46 was not quite in the same quality bracket as his 60 at Old Trafford, but his willingness to go over the top should have nailed down the opener’s position for the rest of the series.
Pietersen acclerated throughout his innings, his first 50 coming off 58 balls, and the second off 46. His hundred included three sixes, two of which will raise a few eyebrows among the law-makers. The reverse sweep is one thing, but not a sudden switch from right- to left-handed grip and stance as the bowler is in his delivery stride.
The unfortunate Styris thus not only suffered the indignity of two leg side sixes, but salt was well and truly rubbed in by a switch that could only be made by a powerful man with a natural eye and hand co-ordinate gifted to few.
The switch has already been discussed by the ICC cricket committee, with the bull point that a bowler must tell the umpire for any change of method, whether from right to left or over or around the wicket.
Collingwood had played aggressively for 64 off as many balls before he played on to Vettori to bring in Owais Shah with six overs left. The odds were against him making much of a mark, but he smashed 49 off 25 balls out of a blitz that added 73 in six overs and took his side to over 300.
New Zealand simply fell apart again and were completely outplayed in all departments.