Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Brilliant Bairstow fires England to series victory over New Zealand

Brilliant Bairstow fires England to series victory over New Zealand
England’s Jonny Bairstow celebrates after reaching his century against New Zealand on Tuesday. – AFP PHOTO

Jonny Bairstow blasted England to a five-wicket win over New Zealand on the final day of the second Test at Trent Bridge on Tuesday as the home side won a series for the first time since January 2021.

England chased down 299 thanks to an astonishing display of raw power from Bairstow, who hit 136 off just 92 balls, and captain Ben Stokes, who hammered an unbeaten 75.

Bairstow narrowly missed out on England's fastest Test hundred, taking 77 balls to reach three figures -- one more than Gilbert Jessop, who scored a 76-ball ton against Australia in 1902.

The win gives England an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series after their five-wicket victory in the first Test at Lord's. A capacity crowd in Nottingham was treated to a remarkable array of brutal batting from Bairstow, who hit 14 fours and seven sixes to leave New Zealand bewildered.

"It was good craic (fun) wasn't it?" said the 32-year-old Yorkshireman. "When you've got yourself in you've just got to capitalise."We always said if we needed 160 in the last session, you back yourself to get that.

"I know we were three or four wickets down but we were brave enough to take the biggest challenge on and we took it straight from the horns."

A delighted Stokes, in only his second match as England's full-time Test skipper, said: "I was out there for a while with him and he had the 'Jonny eyes'.

"When he has those eyes you're not stopping him. You let him go on and do what he needs to do."

After chasing down a target of 277 to win the first Test thanks to Joe Root's 115 not out, Bairstow ensured England enjoyed another successful final-day chase despite falling to 56-3 at one stage, with Root back in the dressing room.

At tea, all four results were still possible, with England needing another 160 runs with six wickets left.

But the sensational Bairstow, supported by Stokes, demolished the world Test champions, who were without the services of injured paceman Kyle Jamieson.

It was the highest successful final-innings run chase in a Test at Trent Bridge, surpassing the previous record of 284 set by England against New Zealand in 2004.

England, who had won just one Test in 17 before this series, are gathering momentum under Stokes and new coach Brendon McCullum after a miserable spell that included a 4-0 Ashes humbling.

Their desire for relentlessly positive and aggressive cricket has been embraced by England and they will seek to sweep the series in the final Test at Headingley from June 23.

The victory was even more eye-catching because New Zealand, inspired by Daryl Mitchell's 190, scored 553 in the first innings after Stokes opted to bowl first.

England bailed out their captain by scoring 539 in their first innings, with former captain Root making 176 and Ollie Pope 145. The home side seized their chance in stunning style after bowling out the Kiwis for 284 in the first session of the final day. Mitchell top-scored with an unbeaten 62 and last man Trent Boult added a useful 17.

The result remained difficult to call early in the home side's innings but then Bairstow took matters into his own hands, reaching 50 from 51 balls after unleashing a boundary off Matt Henry.

Swatting Boult for six in the next over, Bairstow was propelling the England charge as 42 came off the first 16 balls of the evening session.

The onslaught continued as Bairstow battered Boult for two more sixes and the shell-shocked visitors had no answer as he raced towards an astonishing century.

Stokes was struggling with a knee injury but kept blasting away, smashing another four after a visit from the physio.

With New Zealand's bowlers losing the plot, Bairstow maintained his assault at the other end but he missed out on England's fastest century after a pair of defensive strokes. When Bairstow finally departed to a raucous standing ovation after being caught behind off Boult, England were nearly home, inspired by his breathtaking performance.

"Hats off to Jonny -- the way they came out after tea took the game away," said New Zealand stand-in captain Tom Latham.