England batsmen come unstuck

After winning the toss and electing to bat under grey skies on the south coast, England showed they are still learning how to manage their new expansive style as they collapsed from 288-5 in just four overs after Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes had all hit contrasting half-centuries.

Regular wickets stymied the hosts’ bid to match their totals of the first two matches and that the batsmen trudged off disappointed having passed 300 shows how expectations have changed around this England team, but their total looks to be at least 40 runs short against the Black Caps’ powerful batting line-up.

While Root was typically stylish, Morgan was inventive and Stokes brutal, but none of the three could go on to anchor the innings and New Zealand’s own trio of Tim Southee, Ben Wheeler and Matt Henry were excellent in sharing eight wickets between them.

Alex Hales and Jason Roy had given England a solid start, Hales cracking 23 from 21 balls before he fended debutant Wheeler to Southee, who then clean bowled Roy (9) to leave the hosts 34-2.

Root and Morgan looked fluent and composed though, adding 105 in 19 overs for the third wicket only for Root to misjudge his skip down wicket to Mitchell Santner and deflect the ball onto his stumps.

Unbowed, Morgan clubbed Santner for two big sixes in an 82-ball 71, but as he moved through the gears, a swish across the line failed to make contact and Kane Williamson made the crucial breakthrough at 194-4.

Jos Buttler (13) soon followed chasing a wide one and nicking off and although a spritely 34 from 16 from Sam Billings was ended when he became Wheeler’s second victim, England still looked in solid shape with Stokes, who hoiked a huge six over square-leg and bring up his 50 in just 31 balls.

Adil Rashid’s first-ball dismissal – fending off Henry to Guptill at point – then suggested England might struggle to bat out their remaining eight overs at 290-7, but Stokes was undeterred and continued to slog, eventually bowled by the promising Wheeler for 68 and with the tail exposed, David Willey and Mark Wood could do little but inch England past 300.

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