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Jake Ball was on strike and Tim Southee returned to his mark to bowl the third delivery of the 50th over of the England innings. Jos Buttler was waiting to be at the other end but that didn’t happen as Ball failed to open his account and the hosts were bowled out for 310. On-song Buttler would have loved to make most of the remaining deliveries but he did the job, an excellent job for his side, towards the end of the innings. Since 2015 World Cup, England’s transformation and intent in limited-overs is no secret and now numbers are stacked in their favour. The English side has managed to score 300 in every second ODI they have placed after the forgettable World Cup outing. From top to bottom, intent flows and runs follow.
Put into bat on what was expected to be another rain-hit affair, England’s problems at top of the order continued. Jason Roy’s lean patch extended and the right-hander walked back with the scoreboard reading just 37, in the eighth over. Normalcy was restored with the Alex Hales-Joe Root stand and the pair stamped class in Cardiff. They didn’t do anything silly, kept the scoreboard ticking and didn’t miss out on putting the loose deliveries away. Probably the only loose shot was the one which cost Hales his wicket.
The right-hander, soon after hitting another fifty, stayed rooted to the crease and was undone by the Adam Milne slower-one. The ball went through the gate and disturbed the woodwork. It was still advantage England as they had a deep batting line-up and the likes of Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes are very dangerous on their day. It wasn’t Morgan’s day but definitely Stokes’. He faced most of the deliveries and kept the scoreboard moving at a fluent pace. There was a period in the game where Root was more of a spectator from the other end. This probably was one of the reason for his rash shot off a delivery which didn’t deserve a wicket. Corey Anderson bowled one short and wide, Root went for the powerful cut to only drag it back on to his stumps. The right-hander, very frustrated at himself, walked back and missed out what could have been his second hundred of the tournament.
Root went, Stokes followed and Moeen Ali didn’t spend much time either. England were in a spot of bother at 230/6 in the 41st over but one gentleman had other ideas. Buttler took the responsibility and pushed the total in the last ten overs. The right-hander had a couple of crucial mini stands with Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett and played some extraordinary shots during his unbeaten 61 off 48 balls. His knock pushed the total over 300 and set-up the match beautifully for the second innings.
Defending the total, England bowlers Jake Ball and Mark Wood were lively with the ball. Ball castled Luke Ronchi with a peach of a delivery and the first six overs were a treat to watch for any fast bowling fans. There was a steady breeze blowing, sun and clouds were playing hide and seek and there were all sorts of things happening. The odd one did rise awkwardly Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson did well to weather the storm.
The opener was out after getting a start but Williamson and Ross Taylor put on 95 runs and did trigger panic in the English dressing room. The panic didn’t last long as the pair was out in quick succession and New Zealand never came back in the game after that. Plunkett, with 4/55, was pick of the bowlers for the hosts.
With perfect outings in the first two games, England would now look to carry the momentum in the game against Australia and then into the semis.