Dawid Malan revealed England’s plan to rotate him out of the side for the fifth and final Twenty20 was the catalyst for his belligerent century in the 76-run thumping of New Zealand.
Malan became only the second England batsman after Alex Hales to reach three figures in the sprint format with a sparkling 103 not out from 51 balls, a destructive innings containing nine fours and six sixes.
A stand of 182 alongside captain Eoin Morgan, who was in similarly unforgiving mood towards the Kiwi bowlers as he amassed 91 from 41 deliveries, formed the bedrock of England’s T20-best 241 for three at a balmy Napier.
New Zealand were unable to mount a dramatic fightback with the bat, subsiding to 165 all out after 16.5 overs, with Matt Parkinson taking four for 47, levelling the series at 2-2 and setting up a decider at Eden Park on Sunday.
A giddy Malan afterwards divulged that England’s initial plan would see him make way this weekend although he hopes his three-figure score may prompt a rethink.
He said: “I don’t know if I’m going to actually play (in Auckland), I think I was only due to play four games.
“That’s probably why I chanced my arm such a lot. I thought ‘if this is going to be the last one then I might as well try to make it count’.
“Thankfully it came off. A few of the mishits went for six and a couple of balls that I mishit just landed in gaps so that worked out really well.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m honestly buzzing at the moment. To have done it in the way I did it was unbelievable and I’m simply speechless about it. Hopefully I’ve given Morgs a bit of a headache.
“If I play (on Sunday) that would be good but if not then that’s just the way it works with the way that this tour was scheduled.”
Malan took 19 runs from his first 18 balls but needed only another 30 to carve his way to a three-figure score as he and Morgan ruthlessly exploited the shorter boundaries square of the wicket.
Morgan had earlier needed only 21 deliveries to reach his fifty, the fastest in T20s by an England batsman, bettering Jos Buttler’s 22-ball effort against Australia at Edgbaston last year.
The Irishman looked set to follow his Middlesex team-mate to three figures but fell nine runs short after being dismissed in the final over.
Malan, whose 48-ball ton was quicker than Hales’ effort against Sri Lanka in 2014 by 12 deliveries, added: “I actually felt really good when I walked out there, I just found it quite tough to get the boundaries early.
“But when Morgs came out, he took the initiative and the way he played put their bowlers under pressure which then allowed me to feed off some of the loose balls and some of the plans that they had.
“The way Morgs came out changed the game a little bit and allowed me to piggy back on to him a bit.
“I was a bit disappointed for Morgs because the way he came out, to score 90 batting at four is a tough thing to do. The way he did it and to get that close, I was gutted for him not to get it.”
Malan – who revealed he was initially clueless England were into the final over of their innings, which may explain why the last ball of the innings was a dot – has made 50 or more in six of his nine T20 international innings.
Asked whether he is making an unanswerable case for at least a squad place in next year’s T20 World Cup, he responded: “I don’t know what else you can do, all you can do is score runs.
“If the runs that I score in Twenty20 aren’t enough to push or keep my name in the hat for the Twenty20s coming up and looking forward to the World Cup then I don’t know.
“You get judged on the amount of runs you score, nothing else really.”
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Australia made a mockery of Pakistan’s No1 ranking as the rampant hosts clinched the series by 2-0, after crushing the visitors emphatically by 10 wickets in the third and final T20I in Perth.
The Aussies were unrelenting with both ball and bat in the third T20 with Pakistan’s paltry total of 106-8 proving no obstacle for their marauding openers.
In the end, Aaron Finch’s men wiped out the target with more than eight overs to spare to hand Pakistan an almighty humbling. A shoddy, and lethargic, batting display proved to be Pakistan’s undoing in Perth and that is where we start off our talking points from the clash.
No Babar, no party for Pakistan
That Pakistan’s batting is hugely dependent on Babar Azam was exposed once again with the side crumbling after their skipper failed to fire. Babar has registered fifties in both the previous clashes to give Pakistan’s totals some respectability, however, the 25-year-old didn’t last too long at the crease in Perth after being trapped lbw on six by Mitchell Starc.
With the skipper falling early, the rest of the batsmen failed to come to the party bar the exception of Iftikhar Ahmed. The all-rounder was the only bright spark for the visitors on a miserable day with his 37-ball 45 helping his side avoid the ignominy of being bowled out under 100.
Apart from Iftikhar, only Imam-ul-Haq (14) managed to get into double-digits for Pakistan with the likes of Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan and debutant Khushdil Shah failing to create any indent on the scorecard.
A total of 61 dot-balls in the innings summarised Pakistan’s batting woes with the pace and bounce on the Perth track proving too hot to handle for their batsmen.
Disciplined bowling display at the heart of Australia’s win
Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa were handed a rest on Friday by skipper Aaron Finch but their absence hardly showed as Australia put in another commanding bowling display. Having been handed a T20I cap after a gap of five years, pacer Sean Abbott was among the wickets straight away as he claimed the scalps of Imam-ul-Haq and Imad Wasim.
It was Starc who got the ball rolling for the hosts with the consecutive dismissals of Babar and Rizwan before Kane Richardson picked up the mantle. Richardson picked up three wickets as he finished with stellar figures of 3-18 while Ashton Agar completed a fine series display after returning with 1-25 in Perth.
Big man Billy Stanlake, who came in for Zampa, was the lone bowler to not pick a wicket for the Aussies. However, he was tough to get away for Pakistan’s batsmen as well, with his four overs going for just 19 runs.
A chase of just 107 runs was never really going to bother the hosts with in-form openers Finch and David Warner knocking off the required target in under 12 overs. It was the seventh win in eight T20 matches (one no-result) for the Finch’s men whose credentials as prime contenders for the 2020 World Cup on home soil keep getting stronger.
Pakistan’s T20 juggernaut unravelling
After a run of 11 consecutive T20I series wins which saw them maintain a two-year stronghold on the No1 ranking, it is all starting to unravel for Pakistan with less than a year to go for the World Cup. The Perth defeat has now consigned them to their fourth straight series loss in the format with the Men in Green yet to win a bilateral series in 2019.
They have now lost eight of their last 10 T20 outings with one of them ending in a no-result. The thrashing at the hands of Australia follows their embarrassing 0-3 whitewash by Sri Lanka on home soil, with the pressure now rising on Misbah-ul-Haq. The former skipper’s tenure in a dual role of head coach and selector could not have started off on a worse note with reversals against the Lankans and Aussies throwing up plenty of question marks.
The batting remains a mess an utter mess despite the presence of No1 ranked Babar ,while the bowlers haven’t covered themselves in glory either, with just the three Australian wickets claimed in total in the two completed innings.
Where Pakistan go from here will now be interesting to watch with the knives sharpening already for Misbah in his brief, but unremarkable, tenure so far.
Dawid Malan became only the second England batsman to record a Twenty20 international hundred as his destructive display of power hitting led to a comprehensive 76-run victory over a chastened New Zealand in Napier.
In bludgeoning 103 not out from 51 balls, Malan joined Alex Hales in an exclusive club, minutes after Eoin Morgan had broken the England record for the fastest T20 half-century.
The pair’s England best 182-run partnership formed the bedrock of their highest-ever total of 241 for three, with New Zealand getting nowhere close, all out for 165 after 16.5 overs, as the series was squared at 2-2 ahead of a decider in Auckland on Sunday.
Morgan was unable to follow his former Middlesex team-mate to three figures, falling for 91 from 41 deliveries in the final over, but it was the England captain’s arrival at the crease that saw a dramatic surge in tempo.
Malan had started slowly as he took 19 from his first 18 balls but he needed only a further 31 to reach three figures – beating Hales’ effort against Sri Lanka in Chittagong in 2014 by 12 deliveries.
After helping England overhaul their previous T20 best of 230 for eight against South Africa at the 2016 World Twenty20, Malan has immeasurably boosted his hopes of a squad berth in next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Bairstow made just eight before holing out to deep midwicket off Mitch Santner, who had Tom Banton trapped in front for 31 from 20 balls after the Somerset youngster missed a reverse sweep.
Banton had swelled England’s score after they had been 18 for one off four overs but it was Morgan who carried them into overdrive, swatting his fifth delivery over midwicket for six when leg-spinner Ish Sodhi dropped short.
Morgan was dropped on 11 as he looked to repeat the trick later in the over, Daryl Mitchell releasing the ball before his diving momentum took him over the boundary rope.
Morgan took six-four in Blair Tickner’s next over but a score of 88 for two at halfway gave no indication of the carnage that awaited in the final 10 overs.
Santner’s first two overs had yielded just six runs but his third went for 20, Malan and Morgan both clearing the rope off the slow left-armer, with the pair accelerating rapidly from thereon in.
Both batsmen expertly used the shorter boundaries square of the wicket to devastating effect, with back-to-back fours from Morgan taking him to a 21-ball fifty – bettering Jos Buttler’s effort against Australia at Edgbaston last year by one delivery.
In the same over Malan had brought up his own 31-ball half-century – his sixth in nine T20 innings for England – before emphatically taking centre stage from Morgan, who was twice caught off waist-high no-balls.
New Zealand were becoming increasingly erratic and Malan capitalised against Sodhi, who was smashed to the tune of three sixes and two fours in the space of five balls.
He moved into the 90s by shovelling Trent Boult over midwicket for six before a full toss was given the same treatment, Malan greeting a sensational hundred with a fist pump.
Morgan seemed primed for a ton of his own as he flayed part-timer Mitchell, who conceded 25 in the penultimate over as England overtook their previous T20 best with six balls spare.
The England skipper creamed opposite number Tim Southee for six over the leg-side before a toe-edge was taken at deep cover, Morgan walking off the field to a standing ovation from those inside McLean Park.
The last ball, mercifully for New Zealand was a dot, but the damage was done as twilight set in in the only day-night affair in this five-match series.
Sodhi had yielded an eye-watering 49 from only three overs but fellow legbreak bowler Matt Parkinson took four for 47 on only his second England appearance.
New Zealand were forced to go for broke from the off and although there were some crowd-pleasing sixes, they were unable to fashion a dramatic chase.
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