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    Fiery Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes hand a stunning series-deciding win against New Zealand

    England just stunned the cricket world with their thrashing victory in the Nottingham Test to secure the home Test series against New Zealand, thanks to the centurion Jonny Bairstow and the new Test skipper injured Ben Stokes’ solid batting approach. It is their first Test series win since January 2021, when they whitewashed the hosts Sri Lanka in a two-match Test series.

    The visitors New Zealand couldn’t afford another defeat in the three-match Test series against the hosts England, after losing the series opener at Lord’s by five wickets. As this Test series is also a part of the ongoing second edition of the ICC World Test Championship (2021-2023), it is a very important series for both these teams.

    England Test team had a hard time since their tour in India in February-March 2021, as they only won two Tests since then ahead of the beginning of the ongoing Test series. But under the new Test captain Ben Stokes and the new Test head coach Brendon McCullum, the English Test team’s mentality has changed to the positive side. That’s why they chased two challenging fourth-innings targets in back-to-back matches against the WTC title holders New Zealand.

    Nottingham Test (Day 5): Early scenario

    New Zealand started the exciting fifth day of the Nottingham Test on 224/7 in their second innings with a total lead of 238 runs. Stuart Broad bagged two wickets, and James Anderson collected one wicket to end the visitors’ second innings on 284 runs. Overnight batter Daryl Mitchell (started the day on 32 not out), who scored 190 runs in the first innings of this Test, scored 62 not out off 131 balls (4 fours and only six) to help the visitors to set the fourth innings target of 299 runs.

    Daryl MItchell
    Daryl Mitchell (Image Credit: Twitter)

    While England previously successfully chased more than 290 runs fourth innings Test totals thrice at home, it seemed very tough for the hosts to chase the target, especially in 74 overs. Even though they successfully chased the 277 runs target in the previous Test at Lord’s, it still seemed difficult for them to repeat that. Also, before the latest historic fourth innings, Trent Bridge’s (Nottingham) fourth innings successful chase was 284 runs (England vs Nottingham in 2004).

    England struggling at chasing

    England were also struggling in the early fourth innings. After Trent Boult sent the opener Zak Crawley back to the pavilion for a duck, Ollie Pope fought hard before Matt Henry dismissed him for 18 runs.

    Trent Boult then caught and bowled the in-form Joe Root for just three runs. Opener Alex Lees was battling well before Tim Southee took his wicket for 44 runs. At that period, the hosts were struggling on 93/4 as the game was slowly moving out of the hands of the hosts.

    Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes had different attitude

    Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes
    Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes (Image Credit: Twitter)

    But the smashing partnership between Jonny Bairstow and skipper Ben Stokes completely changed the atmosphere of the game, and that too in quick moments. Both the batters fired the New Zealand bowlers as they had 179 runs partnership off 121 balls.

    After completing his half-century in 51 balls, Bairstow completed his century in just 77 balls (second-fastest Test century by an English cricketer, after Gilbert Jessop’s 76-ball Test century vs Australia at The Oval in 1902). The dangerous batter continued his batting till Trent Boult finally took his wicket on 136 off 92 balls (14 fours and 7 sixes).

    Jonny Bairstow
    Jonny Bairstow (Image Credit: Twitter)

    In the meantime, Ben Stokes had no mercy despite picking up the painful knee injury. The new English Test captain scored 75 not out off 70 balls (10 fours and 4 sixes), and he left the ground only after securing the massive win for the hosts.

    Ben Stokes
    Ben Stokes (Image Credit: Twitter)

    While Ben Foakes joined the captain at 27 runs away from the victory, the wicketkeeper-batter remained not out on 12 runs.

    While England won this Test by five wickets, Bairstow won the Player of the Match award for his brutal match-winning knock in the fourth innings. In this three-match Test series, the hosts are leading by 2-0 with one to go.

    Briefly look at the first two innings of this Test

    After England captain Ben Stokes won the toss, he chose to field first. While New Zealand scored 553 runs in the first innings, majorly thanks to Daryl Mitchell’s 190 and Tom Blundell’s 106 runs, the hosts replied with 539 runs. While in-form Joe Root scored 176 runs, Ollie Pope recorded his highest Test career score of 145 runs.

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