Emphasis on new attacking brand overrides defeat, admits Morgan

Ross McLean
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Batsman Kane Williamson top scored with 118 as New Zealand surged into a 2-1 series lead
ENGLAND skipper Eoin Morgan insisted that his side’s continued commitment to a more expansive batting style counterbalanced the disappointment of losing the third one-day international (ODI) against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton yesterday.

Morgan top scored with 71 as Ben Stokes and Joe Root also struck half-centuries before England lost their last five wickets for 14 runs in 23 deliveries and were dismissed for 302 -- 26 balls shy of completing their 50-over allocation.

Just had they had done at the Kia Oval in the second ODI on Friday, batsmen Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor dominated the New Zealand scoring. Both notched classy hundreds as the Black Caps reached their victory target with three wickets and an over to spare.

England surpassed 300 for the third ODI in succession, a sequence never before achieved, and despite heading into the penultimate clash of the series at Trent Bridge on Wednesday trailing 2-1, Morgan refused to relent on the hosts’ evolving ethos of attack.

“There is a huge amount of progress,” said Morgan. “We did a lot of things right in our batting today and looking forward we will continue to encourage the guys to play in that sort of fashion.

“I was proud of the way we came out and played with a positive mindset. For a long time we were looking like getting 350 plus there, and that’s exciting to see when we’re trying to change our mentality with the bat.

“We’ve taken the overs out of the equation. I don’t mind if we get bowled out in 40 overs as long as we put a substantial score on the board. As long as we set our standards really high, we will win more games than we lose playing in this manner.”

The other standout contributor to the England innings was Kent’s Sam Billings, who had previously failed to fire in the series, but showcased his ability with a 16-ball 34, while also sharing a partnership of 61 with Stokes, who smashed 68.

Root and Morgan had earlier revived their heroics from the opening ODI at Edgbaston with a brisk century stand. Root perished on 54 and Morgan 71, having passed 50 for the third consecutive time this series. England’s new-ball duo David Willey and Mark Wood snared openers Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum, the big-hitting New Zealand captain, to reduce the tourists to 36-2, only for Williamson and Taylor to assume centre stage with a national record third-wicket stand of 206.

Williamson proceeded to produce an imperious innings and score his seventh ton in the ODI format, moving serenely to 118 before becoming Willey’s second victim. Taylor was the third, which formed part of a late but ultimately irrelevant New Zealand wobble.