Nicely done lads. England levelled the T20 series in New Zealand this morning with a brilliant performance that must have left the Kiwis feeling shellshocked.

When I turned on the TV and saw that we’d set the hosts 242 to win my eyes almost popped out of their head. It was the 11th highest score by a major international side in history. And it was England’s highest score by some distance – beating the 230 we scored against South Africa in Mumbai during the last World T20 tournament in India.

There were individual records too. Eoin Morgan’s half century (he went on to score 91 off 41 balls) was the fastest ever by an England player. But the real star of the show was Dawid Malan, whose 103 off 51 balls was England’s fastest ever T20 century. That’s some achievement for a so called fringe player.

I was absolutely delighted for Malan. We discussed the other day what a fine white ball players he is. His T20I average and strike rate are now better than Virat Kohli’s! However, he probably needed a match-defining score to cement his place in the team. And now he’s done that.

Malan is great to watch. He’s not quite David Gower (I often think he’s a bit like Ed Joyce aesthetically) but he’s still destructive in a stylish and languid manner. His runs are rarely ‘thrashy’; they’re mostly beautifully timed rather than brutal. England simply must find room for him in their World T20 squad.

The problem for Dawid is that competition is fierce. There’s still Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and dare I say it Alex Hales, to come back into the mix. Who on earth should England leave out? It depends whether the selectors go for reputation or production. If they choose the latter then Dawid should be a dead cert.

Malan has now made 6 scores in excess of 50 in just nine T20I innings. It’s hard to know what else he can do. However, if England can go on to win this series, as they’re now favourites to do in the cricket betting, then it will become harder to change a winning team too much. The fact that Malan can open the batting as well as slot in at 4 makes him both a valuable and versatile squad player.

The other player who caught the eye today was Tom Banton. This time he made an entertaining 31 off 20 balls. He’s a very special talent indeed. I can’t quite pick who he reminds me of. David Lloyd said after the game that he’s a tad reminiscent of Kevin Pietersen. I can see what he means but the parallels aren’t exact. Banton has the same world class hand-eye coordination but he’s more orthodox than Pietersen on the drive.

England also bowled well today – although I doubt anyone seriously thought that New Zealand would chase down England’s huge score. Monroe and Guptill got them off to a decent start, with the Curran brothers taking some punishment for the first time on tour, but the crowd’s hopes of a home win proved ephemeral.

Our star with the ball proved to be Matt Parkinson. There’s so much to love about this Lancashire lad. He gives the ball some air, shows courage, and isn’t afraid to bowl slowly even when he’s going for runs. That takes guts and a sound temperament.

Parky’s short-lived duel with Colin Grandhomme was compelling. The ‘big man’ launched him for a massive six but the leggie held his nerve. He kept tossing it up and Grandhomme’s eyes ultimately proved bigger than his belly. Banton took a sound catch in the deep.

It was clear that the Kiwis had decided to target Parkinson but it proved their undoing. The youngster claimed four valuable wickets and extinguished any remaining hopes New Zealand might have had. I particularly enjoyed his dismissal of Southee, who slogged a few down the order. Parkinson got him lbw with a nice slider – evidence that he’s got all the tricks.

The series is now set up beautifully for the decider in Aukland. The only potential problem is the weather. The forecast suggests heavy showers with the possibility of thunder.

If I was a mainstream cricket writer I’d now add “but if the storm clouds do stay away then New Zealand ought to worry about thunder in the shape of Dawid Malan”. But I’m not so I won’t.

James Morgan

PS Yesterday’s article was published quite late in the day so you might have missed it. Here’s a link to The Hundred PR Paradox. This one took longer than usual to write and research so please do give it a read if you have time.

Written in collaboration with cricket-betting.in

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