NOTTINGHAM: Jonny Bairstow blasted a match-winning 136 from 92 balls to lead England to a remarkable five-wicket, second Test victory over New Zealand on Tuesday, clinching the three-Test series.
New Zealand were bowled out for 284 before lunch, setting England a target of 299 to win — the highest ever to claim a Test victory at Trent Bridge.
It was a challenging target but England reached it in just 50 overs thanks to an all-time great display of raw power from Bairstow, who took just 77 balls to reach the ninth Test century of his career.
Bairstow narrowly missed hitting England’s fastest Test hundred, taking one more delivery than Gilbert Jessop, who scored a 76-ball ton against Australia in 1902.
While Bairstow could not earn a place in the history books, that will be a footnote for the 32-year-old, whose display will be remembered forever by all those who witnessed it.
A capacity crowd at Trent Bridge was treated to a remarkable array of brutal boundaries from Bairstow, who hit 14 fours and seven sixes to leave New Zealand bewildered in his 92-ball masterclass.
After chasing down 277 to win the first Test at Lord’s by five wickets thanks to Joe Root’s 115 not out, Bairstow ensured England enjoyed another successful final-day chase.
At tea, all four results were possible, with England needing another 160 runs with six wickets left.
But the sensational Bairstow, supported by skipper Ben Stokes, with an unbeaten 75, demolished of the Test world champions.
The match set the record for the most boundaries in a Test match with 250 in total, including 24 sixes.
England were 139 for four at tea, having lost leading batsman Root for three, with the game in the balance.
But then Bairstow and Stokes ripped the New Zealand attack apart in devastating fashion, hammering 102 in the first nine overs after the interval.
Stokes was hampered by a knee injury, but with Bairstow taking the lead, their partnership was worth 179 runs in 20.1 overs.
“It was great fun, one of those things when you get in that mood, just go with it. Do or die, so you’ve got to do,” said Bairstow.
The Yorkshireman finally departed to a standing ovation after he was caught behind off Trent Boult, having hit seven sixes and 14 fours.
Stokes and Ben Foakes took care of the remaining 27 runs to soak up the cheers of a crowd that had been given free tickets for the match.
The win was a vindication of the positive approach taken by skipper Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum — himself known for aggressive attacking cricket.
“Today was set up perfectly for how we want to go about it, run into the danger rather than back away or stand still,” said Stokes.
New Zealand were left to ponder how they had lost the match after making 553 in their first innings but their decision to attack Bairstow with short pitched bowling after tea — and to stick with that approach while he peppered the stand — will feature heavily in their post-mortem.
The tourists were without their captain Kane Williamson in this test, after he tested positive for Covid, and seamer Kyle Jamieson was unable to bowl in the second innings due to a back injury, but this will be a tough loss to recover from.
“At tea it was still in the balance but the way Jonny and Ben were able to play was outstanding,” said stand-in skipper Tom Latham. “A great surface to bat on, wickets were hard to come by, to be in with a chance at tea, a couple of wickets there and it’s a different story. A bowler down doesn’t help but they kept coming back, and wanting the ball.”
NEW ZEALAND (1st Innings) 553
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 539
NEW ZEALAND (2nd Innings; overnight 224-7):
T. Latham b Anderson 4
W. Young run out (Pope) 56
D. Conway c Bairstow b Leach 52
H. Nicholls c Lees b Potts 3
D. Mitchell not out 62
T. Blundell c Stokes b Broad 24
M. Bracewell c Broad b Potts 25
T. Southee run out (Crawley) 0
M. Henry c Foakes b Broad 18
K. Jamieson c Foakes b Broad 1
T. Boult c Stokes b Anderson 17
EXTRAS (B-9, LB-5, NB-6, W-2) 22
TOTAL (all out, 84.4 overs) 284
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-4 (Latham), 2-104 (Conway), 3-115 (Nicholls), 4-131 (Young), 5-176 (Blundell), 6-204 (Bracewell), 7-213 (Southee), 8-245 (Henry), 9-249 (Jamieson)
BOWLING: Anderson 8.4-1-20-2, Broad 20-4-70-3, Potts 15-6-32-2 (1w), Leach 24-5-86-1, Stokes 17-3-62-0 (1w, 6nb).
ENGLAND (2nd Innings):
A. Lees c Blundell b Southee 44
Z. Crawley c Southee b Boult 0
O. Pope c Blundell b Henry 18
J. Root c&b Boult 3
J. Bairstow c Blundell b Boult 136
B. Stokes not out 75
B. Foakes not out 12
EXTRAS (B-5, LB-6) 11
TOTAL (for five wkts, 50 overs) 299
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-12 (Crawley), 2-53 (Pope), 3-56 (Root), 4-93 (Lees), 5-272 (Bairstow).
DID NOT BAT: M. Potts, J. Leach, S. Broad, J. Anderson
BOWLING: Southee 11-0-67-1, Boult 16-1-94-3, Henry 15-3-67-1, Bracewell 8-0-60-0
RESULT: England win by five wickets.
SERIES: England lead three-match series 2-0.
Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2022