Stokes masterclass sees England level New Zealand series
England's star all-rounder Ben Stokes put on a masterclass as the tourists levelled the One-Day International (ODI) series against New Zealand with a dominant six-wicket victory at Mount Maunganui on Wednesday.
Stokes made just 12 in the opening match – his first international appearance since being arrested following an incident in Bristol last September – but scored an unbeaten 63 to lead England in a successful chase of 224.
The 26-year-old played a pivotal role in bowling the Black Caps, who were sent in to bat first by Eoin Morgan, out for 223, claiming a couple of wickets and running two batsmen out.
Mitchell Santner's 27-ball 45 got New Zealand across the line in the first match but his first ODI fifty and a half-century from Martin Guptill were unable to give the hosts - led by Tim Southee in the absence of hamstring injury victim Kane Williamson - a 2-0 lead in the five-game series.
Captain Morgan made 63 before Stokes and Jos Buttler (36 not out) got the tourists home with 12.1 overs to spare.
Another impressive opening spell from Chris Woakes (2-42) yielded a couple of early wickets, Colin Munro and Mark Chapman falling to put New Zealand in the mire on 9-2
David Willey was alert to run out Ross Taylor (10), a centurion in the opening match of the series, and although Guptill was able to increase the run rate by striking seven boundaries, he fell to an excellent catch from Jason Roy at deep midwicket after attempting to strike Moeen Ali (2-33) into the stands just after bringing up a 34th ODI half-century.
Colin de Grandhomme chipped in with 38 before he was run out taking on Jonny Bairstow's arm and New Zealand were teetering on 147-8 when Southee was short of his ground following sharp work from Stokes in a superb England fielding display.
Santner was able to drag New Zealand beyond 200, dominating a ninth-wicket stand of 69 with Lockie Ferguson as he dispatched Tom Curran for six and struck another six boundaries in a much-needed maiden half-century in the 50-over format.
Adil Rashid took a diving catch to remove Ferguson in a penultimate over bowled by Stokes (2-42), who was again alert to run Trent Boult out and end the innings.
Roy threw his wicket away by pulling Boult (2-46) to Santner at square leg and the left-armer was indebted to a great one-handed catch from De Grandhomme at short midwicket to remove Root.
England were 86-3 in the 16th over after Bairstow fell for 37, but an 88-run partnership from Morgan and Stokes put them well on their way to victory.
Morgan brought up his half-century by slapping a short ball from Boult over midwicket to the boundary and Stokes played with increasingly fluency, reaching 50 from 54 balls after his fellow left-hander cleared the ropes with an upper cut off Ferguson.
Buttler was in a rush to get the job done after the skipper was caught and bowled by Munro, hooking Ferguson for six and striking Southee for 14 off three balls before ending New Zealand's nine-match winning run with another maximum when a Santner short ball was treated with disdain.