England 198 for 4 (Bairstow 86*, Brook 67) beat New Zealand 103 (Atkinson 4-20) by 95 runs
Bairstow batted through the England innings for 86 off 60 balls but it was Brook’s audacious strokeplay that had the crowd off their feet while adding 67 from 36, with five fours and as many sixes, as England powered to a commanding score after choosing to bat first.
Atkinson, clocked at 95mph/152kph during the Hundred last month, claimed a wicket with his fourth ball in international cricket before returning to blast out the final three in the space of an over. Atkinson finished with 4 for 20, New Zealand plummeting from 72 for 3 to 103 all out – only three batters managing double-figures – as England consigned them to their third-heaviest defeat in T20s, and a 2-0 series deficit.
“He’s got extra pace, and pace can create wickets,” Jos Buttler said at the toss, when asked about England’s newest quick bowler, Atkinson of Surrey (or Oval Invincibles in new money). Few outside the county borders knew much about the 25-year-old at the start of the season, even though he had been on the club’s books since 2017, but impressive returns and, more importantly, a propensity to push the speed gun well above 90mph, had seen him rocket up the pecking order and into England’s 50-over World Cup squad despite being uncapped in any format.
The first cap duly came, having been given an extra couple of days to recover from his exertions in the Hundred final, and it didn’t take long for pace to create a maiden international wicket. His start was tight, the wheels in evidence – second ball, 92mph/148kph – and Devon Conway duly attempted to hit his way out of trouble, only to flick another 90mph/145kph delivery down the throat of deep backward square leg.
New Zealand crumble in steep chase
With both openers gone for single-figure scores and Glenn Phillips hitting an Adil Rashid full toss straight to long-on – Brook again on the scene with a precisely judged leap – New Zealand were 44 for 3 and struggling to keep up with a required rate of almost 10 an over. Mark Chapman crashed Liam Livingstone’s first two balls for six and four but fell in the same over, and when Brydon Carse’s deck-hitting approach had Daryl Mitchell caught behind first ball, the jig was as good as up.
It was still a tame ending, as Will Jacks bowled Mitchell Santner for a maiden T20I wicket, Adam Milne reversed Rashid straight to slip – a fine reaction catch from Moeen Ali – and Atkinson returned to end it in the space of five balls. Tim Seifert, who battled gamely for 39 off 31, top-edged a bouncer straight up, before Tim Southee was lbw attempting to scoop and Atkinson’s yorker thudded into the base of middle and off stumps to dismiss Lockie Ferguson first ball. As at Chester-le-Street on Wednesday, the game was done with six overs to spare.
Bat first, bat steady
After Buttler had opted to bat at the toss, England’s powerplay effort of 40 for 1 suggested that conditions might not be conducive for outright carnage. Bairstow ticked along at just under a run a ball, and although Jacks fetched Ferguson for two fours and a six in the space of three balls, not everything was coming out of the middle – as evidenced by a flaccid pull off Southee that looped to mid-on in the following over.
Bairstow, Brook go big
A pair of Yorkshiremen on Lancashire’s home ground, Bairstow and Brook took a while to feel comfortable. England’s third-wicket pair were prepared to put in the groundwork, easing to a fifty partnership from 30 balls – and then came the signal to unleash. Bairstow, having notched a 40-ball half-century, slog-swept Southee over the ropes before hitting him down the ground for four and then six – the latter a huge straight hit into the pavilion – before Brook latched on to another wide slower ball and flogged six more over long-on, as the over went for 23.
Bairstow made it three sixes in five balls by tucking into Sodhi, Brook adding another boundary with an impudent reverse-slap. Milne briefly put a break on the scoring with a boundary-free 15th, but Brook showed his touch by dabbing and driving Ferguson for another brace of fours, then went after Southee again with 6-4-6 from consecutive balls. A baseball slap down the ground took him to fifty off 31 balls, before whipping a full toss through midwicket, then picking the wide legcutter again and ploughing it over long-on.
By the time Brook departed in the 18th, advancing to mistime Sodhi to long-on, the partnership had realised 131 from 65 balls – the highest stand in T20Is at Old Trafford. Although only 24 runs came from the last 16 balls, Milne completing an excellent showing to finish with figures of 4-0-23-0, England were as good as out of sight already.
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick