Jonny Bairstow lit up Headingley once more as England raced to a seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the third Test.
Rain in Leeds delayed the start of play until after lunch and once the players did get onto the field, the home side, resuming on 183-2 in their chase of 296, got their business done in a hurry as Bairstow (71no off 44 balls) blitzed England’s second fastest Test fifty, from 30 balls.
Ollie Pope (82) missed out on the chance to get to a century as he was bowled in the first over of the day, while Joe Root (86no), scoring at a good rate himself, ran out of time to reach three figures amid Bairstow’s onslaught.
Score summary – England win by seven wickets
- New Zealand 329 all out – Mitchell (109), Blundell (56); Leach (5-100), Broad (3-62)
- England 360 all out – Bairstow (162), J Overton (97); Boult (4-104), Southee (3-100)
- New Zealand 326 all out – Blundell (88no), Latham (76); Leach (5-66), Potts (3-66)
- England 296-3 – Root (86no), Pope (82), Bairstow (71no); Southee (1-68)
In all, England needed just 15.2 overs to get over the line – Bairstow sealing it with a huge six – and secure a 3-0 series sweep over the reigning world Test champions, maintaining their perfect start to life under head coach Brendon McCullum and skipper Ben Stokes.
England make light work of another ‘tricky’ chase
When play eventually began, two and a half hours later than scheduled, the expectation was that it was just a matter of time before England knocked off the 113 more runs they needed for victory.
However, Tim Southee soon provided a reminder that that was far from a given as he uprooted Pope’s off stump with the fifth ball of the day.
It was a beauty that came back at Pope, who added just one to his overnight score, and brought a 134-run stand for the third wicket to an end.
Where previously the early blow may have spread doubt through the England team, the new approach is simply to hit back harder – and that is what Root and Bairstow did, hitting two boundaries apiece off Trent Boult in the next over to take the required runs down into double figures.
Southee had started well but that did not prevent Bairstow, in the form of his life, from pumping him back over his head for six and in next to no time, the 50 partnership had been reached and in the blink of an eye, the England No 5 had racked up a half-century of his own.
Less than 50 were required when the ball disappeared over long-on as Bairstow belted Michael Bracewell disdainfully into stands, by which point any inkling of jeopardy had long since vanished.
The chances of Root getting to a hundred were also quickly diminishing. There simply were not enough runs to go around with Bairstow like a runaway train hurtling towards the finish line.
Thankfully, Root has not been short of tons in recent times and was happy to watch his fellow Yorkshireman pummel Bracewell into the stands one last time to clinch the win a mere 64 minutes into the day.
Stat of the day
England vs India
July 1, 2022, 9:30am
Ben Stokes’ side are back in action on Friday as they take on India in the rescheduled fifth Test against at Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket. Coverage starts at 9.30am with play starting half an hour earlier than usual at 10.30am.
England vs South Africa
June 28, 2022, 10:30am
Meanwhile, Heather Knight’s England are up against South Africa in the only Test of the multi-format series. Day two is live on Sky Sports Cricket, Mix and Main Event from 10.30am, play begins at 11am.
Watch day one of the rescheduled fifth LV= Insurance Test between England and India, at Edgbaston, live on Sky Sports Cricket with coverage starting at 9.30am and play getting underway at 10.30am, on Friday.