Henry Nicholls* 13(12); | Ross Taylor 181(12);
Tom Curran* 8.3-0-57-2; | Chris Woakes 8-2-42-1
Something happens to Taylor around his birthday! Almost 7 years to the day he wreaked havoc on Shoaib Akhtar and co. in the 2011 WC on his 27th birthday, he has powered through the pain and absolutely ravaged through the England bowling line-up to play an even more impressive innings in context. England don't know what has hit them, but as it stands, they will have to play the decider of this five-ODI series on Saturday at the Hagley Oval. Until then, it's Rishi Roy, still unable to believe what I have just seen (could be due to sleep deprivation too), signing off on behalf of Pradeep Krishnamurthy, Nikhil Jadhav and Venky. If you wish to express your awe or convey your dropped jaws in words, do tweet away @_rrroy_ and I shall get back to you ASAP. Alright then, we're off! Tada!
An ode to Taylor: "This is ten percent luck, twenty percent skill, fifteen percent concentrated power of will, five percent pleasure, fifty percent pain, and a hundred percent reason to remember the name!" A Fort Minor song dedicated to Ross Taylor, on the occasion of one of the most enthralling individual innings I have ever witnessed in the ODI game. An exhibition of unerring grit, resolve and concentration. There was some poor bowling by England to complement Taylor's innings. New Zealand maintain their winning streak at Dunedin, and extend their unbeaten run to 15 matches. No one can complain about this knock. Easy conditions? Hardly. Turn and some seam movement too. No pressure? Both openers and one of the world's best batsmen back in the hut. Extreme pressure. No-context match? A do-or-die match.
Ross Taylor, Man of the Match (Duh!): "It was nice to be there at the end. I batted okay in Hamilton but I got out. I had some cramps. A lot of guys came in and there were a lot of little partnerships - with Latham and Williamson. de Grandhomme scored quickly and took a lot of pressure off me. While chasing such a total, you just want to set yourself small goals and give yourself a chance. Just had to take it as deep as possible even though we were at a disadvantage in the beginning of our innings. Even our bowlers struggled and England looked like they'd get to 360-380 so it was great that they brought it back. Tom (Latham) and I complement each other very well and we stitched together a good partnership. When I got injured, I was on a 110/120. The physio asked me if I wanted to get out of there. I just had it firmly in my mind that I'd stay out there and swing at it. Hopefully it'll get better over the next few days. I think the injury helped because I really couldn't run any twos. So I just started swinging at it. I was hoping to get a few out of the screws and thankfully it came off. I think we were ahead when Tom got out too. Nicholls came out and finished it off. You don't want to panic at that stage. It's my birthday tomorrow, and I had some red wine stored, so I can't drink that if I am to play tomorrow (laughs)."
Kane Williamson: New Zealand captain: "Great game of cricket. We were put under pressure in the first half. They got 260 for 2 but we pulled back well to restrict them to 330 by picking wickets regularly. Ross played his best one day knock, in fact one of the best knocks in a chasing cause. Outstanding effort by him. To be honest we were not at our best in the first half as our intensity was not up to the mark. After a tough start, like we had in the first innings, it was great to see our batting take us over the line. Chasing 330 on this track is a good effort, indeed. The guys stuck to their plan and Ross was sensational in the run chase. Hopefully his injury is a minor one and we get to see him in action soon."
Eoin Morgan, England captain: "Beauty of a game that was. There was great support from the crowd and they were thoroughly entertained. I thought there was a bit of moisture early on but our openers gave us a good start. There was a bit of collapse after the kind of start. 335 was a competitive score, but we would have liked more. New Zealand bowled well at the death and pull things back. While fielding, creating those chances early was important and our bowlers did manage to do that. But Ross fought hard and took the game away from us. Losing 4 for 20 is not ideal. But we played a lot of good cricket today and it's unfortunate to end on the losing side."
19:04 Local Time, 06:04 GMT, 11:34 IST: New Zealand, oh New Zealand! How do you do this? England started off their innings like champions and posted a massive 335, which could have been more if not for some careless shots by the Englishmen towards the end. The New Zealand innings got off to as inauspicious a start as it could have, as the openers lost their wickets for blobs. After Williamson was wrongly adjudged caught behind, it just didn't look like it was New Zealand's day. And then it began: Ross Taylor and Latham began a partnership for the ages.
So it's down to this. 3 to win off 6. To extend their winning streak at this ground to 15. And this one will be special. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Stranger things have happened in cricket. Curran entrusted with the final over again. Five inside the circle... Here we go!
Taylor seems to have hurt his arm now. Oh dear! This has gotta hurt... He's injured so many parts of his body, might need to be in a bodycast for the next month..
The equation stands at 13 to win from 12. Taylor on strike. If he can pull this off, it may well be the greatest ODI innings ever played. As David Lloyd mentioned on air, "If Taylor wins this, the Kiwis should carry him off the field."
Equation: 17 off 18.
Henry Nicholls, left handed bat, comes to the crease
Tom Curran to de Grandhomme, THAT'S OUT!! Caught!!
Equation: 34 off 30.
Chris Woakes [5.0-2-14-1] is back into the attack
Wow! What a turnaround! 37 off 36 required. 58 off the last 5! What a game we are witnessing today!
Colin de Grandhomme, right handed bat, comes to the crease
Tom Curran to Latham, THAT'S OUT!! Caught!!
Tom Curran [4.0-0-24-0] is back into the attack
That was a 102 meter six by Taylor! Yikes, that looked even bigger! 70 to win off 54, and it's NZ's game to lose now...
Adil Rashid [8.0-0-52-0] is back into the attack
NZ need 80 off 60, RAJR is down to 8.00, thanks mainly to the fireworks in the last few overs by Taylor. Is the quad-pull a blessing in disguise?
Taylor needs some tending to again, as his quad receives some attention. The umpires look on, concerned, but also keen to get on with the game. Taylor certainly is in no mood to get off the field. 109 to win from 72 @9.08rpo.
The required run-rate is 8.92 now.
Ross Taylor dived during the second run and seems to have pulled his quad muscle. The physio is tending to him right now. But he's up and running with a bottle of water, so it looks like he will continue to play. Oh boy, NZ need him out there...
Ben Stokes [5.0-0-20-1] is back into the attack
Mark Wood [5.0-0-29-1] is back into the attack
Drinks! Yes, the required run rate is 9 but with Taylor in such form and batsmen like Nicholls and Grandhomme to follow, this is still anyone's game. Taylor needs only two more runs to complete his 19th century in ODIs. This match is going down to the wire, it seems.
This partnership has moved to 89* off 95 balls now. Looking solid!
The two spinners are running through the overs quickly. Not giving the batsmen much time to think about.
This partnership has started to threaten the visitors. They're in desperate need of a wicket.
Adil Rashid [3.0-0-24-0] is back into the attack
The required run rate is inching closer to 8.5! Need someone to take charge before it gets too late
Moeen Ali, right-arm off break, comes into the attack
Tom Latham, left handed bat, comes to the crease
Stokes to Williamson, THAT'S OUT!! Caught!!
Ben Stokes, right-arm medium, comes into the attack
Time for some bowling change. Ben Stokes comes on to bowl. Can he break this partnership?
Tom Curran, right-arm fast, comes into the attack
Adil Rashid, right-arm leg break, comes into the attack
Ross Taylor, right handed bat, comes to the crease
Woakes to Guptill, THAT'S OUT!! Caught!!
Kane Williamson, right handed bat, comes to the crease
Mark Wood to Munro, THAT'S OUT!! Lbw!!
Mark Wood, right-arm fast medium, comes into the attack
Guptill and Munro are at the crease. Guptill is on strike. Woakes will open the attack