- England smashed a remarkable 241 for three in their first innings vs New Zealand
- Eoin Morgan and Dawid Malan put on a partnership of 182 off just 12.2 overs
- England posted their highest ever T20 international score on Friday in Napier
- The England bowlers then finished off the job to set up a decider in Auckland
- Matt Parkinson took four wickets for 47 runs as hosts were bowled out for 165
- Morgan’s side completed an emphatic 76-run victory to level the series
Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan put on a show for England to draw the T20 series level in Napier
Malan posted the fastest-ever T20 international century by an England player on Friday
Morgan and Malan put on a partnership of 182 off just 12.2 overs in the fourth T20 international
Tim Southee and Co had no answers to England’s inspired batting performance on Friday
Malan raises his bat as he soaks in the applause after England’s fine innings at McLean Park
Matt Parkinson took a brilliant four wickets for 47 runs to help finish the job off for England
England bowled the hosts out for 165 runs on Friday, winning by an impressive 76 runs
Trent Boult is bowled by Chris Jordan as the England man wrapped up the New Zealand innings
The last major earthquake to hit Napier took place back in 1931, but the tremors caused by Dawid Malan at McLean Park may one day be spoken of with similar awe by the locals.
With the tourists needing victory to set up a decider in Auckland, Malan responded with a 48-ball century – arguably the most brutal innings in a Twenty20 shirt by an England cricketer – and a partnership for the ages with his captain, Eoin Morgan.
By the time Morgan fell in the final over for an equally destructive 91 from 41 deliveries, he and his former Middlesex team-mate had butchered New Zealand’s bowlers to the tune of 182 in 12.2 overs.
It was England’s highest T20 partnership, and paved the way for their highest total: an eye-watering 241 for three.
Earlier, on an evening when records cascaded like confetti, Morgan helped himself to England’s fastest T20 half-century, his 21-ball blitz surpassing Jos Buttler’s 22 against Australia at Edgbaston in 2018. It was carnage.
Their bowlers soon completed the job, dismissing New Zealand for 165 to clinch victory by 76 runs, and head to Eden Park at 2-2.
A rugby ground with a drop-in pitch, in the New Zealand style, Napier offers temptingly short square boundaries, but Malan and Morgan weren’t afraid to go straight either, repeatedly using their feet to clear mid-off and mid-on.
Between them, they launched 16 fours and 13 sixes. Malan, batting at No 3 after the recall of Jonny Bairstow, took 28 off an over from leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, while seamer Daryl Mitchell, asked to bowl the 19th, disappeared for 25. By the end, even the home fans were on their feet.
New Zealand didn’t help themselves. After a steady start in which they conceded 18 from the first four overs and removed Bairstow, who looked aghast after pulling Mitchell Santner’s first ball to deep midwicket for eight, their line and length evaporated into Hawke’s Bay.
When they twice had Morgan caught in the deep, on 51 and 59, they were no-balled for height. The 50 stand came up in 17 minutes, the 100 in 37, and the 150 in 50. Every bowler went for at least one six, and five went for at least two.
And when Malan pulled Trent Boult for his sixth six, he became only the second England batsman – after Alex Hales against Sri Lanka at Chittagong during the 2014 World T20 – to reach three figures in the format.
Hales seemed to go berserk that night, but still needed 60 deliveries to reach three figures. Malan, who walked off unbeaten on 103 off 51, beat him to it by 12.
This was his sixth score above 50 in nine T20 international innings. And if he hasn’t endeared himself to Middlesex this week following his comments about why he chose to join Yorkshire, he has placed England’s selectors on red alert with a year to go before the T20 World Cup in Australia.
The mayhem overshadowed a handy 31 in 20 balls from Tom Banton, who played some lovely strokes before missing a reverse-sweep against Santner. That followed his fatal scoop shot in Nelson: the early signs are that Banton isn’t shy.
New Zealand needed all their big hitters to come off, and raced to 54 in the fifth over, with Martin Guptill square-cutting Chris Jordan out of the park and towards the sea.
But Guptill hit a low full-toss from Tom Curran to short midwicket, before Jordan duped Tim Seifert with a slower delivery. When leg-spinner Matt Parkinson removed the dangerous Colins, de Grandhomme and Munro, with successive deliveries, then added Mitchell soon after, it was 78 for five – and all but over.
Until Pat Brown dropped Tim Southee at long-on to deny Parkinson a fourth wicket – a flat hit that knocked off his cap – England’s out-fielding and catching were top-class. When Parkinson eventually trapped Southee leg-before after a flurry of sixes, it was no more than he deserved.
The only hope now is that Auckland’s shaky weather forecast doesn’t come to pass on Sunday. After Friday night’s frolics, that would be the definitive anti-climax.