England beat New Zealand to level ODI series

England 226-7 (34 overs): Livingstone 95* (78); Boult 3-37
New Zealand 147 (26.5 overs): Mitchell 57 (52); Topley 3-27
England won by 79 runs; series level 1-1

England comfortably beat New Zealand by 79 runs to level the one-day international series in a rain-affected encounter at Southampton.

The game was reduced to 34 overs per side and England slipped to 55-5 having been put in to bat.

But Liam Livingstone’s unbeaten 95 from 78 balls, in a seventh-wicket stand of 112 with Sam Curran, helped them recover to 226-7.

Reece Topley then took 3-27 as New Zealand fell to 147 all out.

Seamer Trent Boult made an immediate impact upon his return to the side, having not played an ODI for almost a year, reducing England to 8-3 as Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes added just seven runs between them.

Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali led a brief middle-order recovery before Livingstone and Curran, who made 42, set a formidable total.

England’s bowlers started brilliantly, David Willey bowling the dynamic Finn Allen with the second ball of the Black Caps’ innings.

Mitchell’s resistance kept them in the game throughout a measured start to the chase but England kept the pressure on throughout and New Zealand lost their last six wickets for just 36 runs.

The four-match series continues at The Kia Oval on Wednesday.

Livingstone’s versatility rescues England

As New Zealand put England in to bat in bowler-friendly conditions, Boult was ready to pounce, having missed the series opener at Cardiff on Friday.

And it took him just seven balls to strike, removing Bairstow in his second over with some help from a leaping Mitchell Santner at cover, before pinning Root lbw two balls later and then having a frustrated Stokes caught at mid-off in the fifth over.

Boult bowled beautifully, well-supported by the economical Matt Henry who dismissed Harry Brook for two, but Livingstone followed his entertaining 39-ball half-century at Cardiff with a more measured performance.

England rejigged the batting order after the early wickets, moving Livingstone a couple of places down to seven having been originally down at five, and he played sensibly to add 48 for the sixth wicket with Moeen before capitalising late in the innings alongside Curran.

Curran also showed his valuable batting ability at number eight, eventually departing for 42 from 35 balls, as New Zealand struggled to match England’s depth in their line-up.

Mitchell and Devon Conway made sublime tons in the first ODI, meaning their middle order wasn’t tested.

And while the former batted serenely for another half-century, he was put under pressure by a lack of partners at the other end and eventually holed out off Moeen, having to try and force a stalling run-rate.

Topley leads improved bowling performance

England’s bowlers struggled to create any potency on a slow Cardiff pitch but led by Topley, they fought back with an impressive all-round performance.

Willey was back to his best with the swinging ball, nipping one through Allen’s defences in the first over, and also had Will Young brilliantly run out from mid-off for 33.

Gus Atkinson took his maiden ODI wicket, having opener Conway caught and bowled for 14, before Topley followed Livingstone in further pressing his case for a spot in England’s World Cup starting XI.

In the mould of Liam Plunkett, England’s middle-overs specialist who played a crucial part in their 2019 triumph, Topley bowled with impressive consistency and found some extra bounce with his height to trouble the Black Caps’ batters.

Captain Tom Latham edged behind for 19, Topley held on to a sharp catch in his follow-through to dismiss the aggressive Glenn Phillips for two and Rachin Ravindra was caught at slip.

After a poor outing in the first ODI, he made the most of his chance in the second and gave positive signs for England’s bowling depth as they won without their key man in Adil Rashid, who had mild tightness in his calf.

The pace of Mark Wood is also yet to feature in this series to add further variation, but Atkinson looks set to be a suitable deputy, while the left-arm seam of Willey, Curran and Topley gives Buttler an enviable amount of options.

“I am delighted,” said Buttler. “From the position we found ourselves in to post a score was credit to the way we wanted to play. The partnership between Livingstone and Curran was fantastic.

“We needed to find ways to get them off their lengths. It has been the hallmark of this team to play positively. We’re trying to get back into an ODI mindset because guys haven’t played it for a while.

“Everyone is pretty clear on the options they have in the team. Today we had good batting depth and it was vital. Livingstone and Curran are well within their rights to be batting higher up the order. We’re delighted to level the series.

“Willey and Topley were impressive. We spoke about improving our powerplay bowling from the other day. We were very good throughout the innings with the ball.”

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