A devastating spell by spin twins Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, and a freakish run out yesterday saw England pull off a dramatic four-run victory in the third one-day global (ODI) against New Zealand in Wellington.
Ben Stokes did not hit his first boundary until his 53rd delivery but England knew the pitch meant New Zealand's run chase would be hard. It was the case of batsmen not converting their starts as Joe Root (20), Eoin Morgan (48), Ben Stokes (39), Jos Buttler (29) and Moeen Ali (23) got in and got out.
Ish Sodhi was more expensive with his leg breaks, but still claimed three wickets for 53, while there were three late run outs as England pushed for runs at the end of their innings.
Needing 235 to take a 2-1 lead in the series, New Zealand finished on 230 for eight; seamer Chris Woakes producing a dot ball off the final ball when Williamson needed six to win the match.
Jason Roy (15) was an early victim of the misbehaving surface, the opener clipping a Trent Boult delivery that spat up and took the shoulder of the bat to Martin Guptill at slip. Williamson remained unbeaten on 112 (143 deliveries) as England clinched the thriller by 4 runs.
Williamson shared a 68-run stand with Munro, and once Ali and Rashid had destroyed the rest of the recognised New Zealand batting he engineered a revival with Mitchell Santner. Ish Sodhi was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts with figures of 3/53 to his name.
The blame for the defeat falls squarely on the Kiwi middle order.
"It was a brilliant game of cricket and was hopefully entertaining for everyone".
That was until Stokes flung himself to his left to take an outstanding catch to send back Colin Munro, who had lived dangerously for his 49, off Adil Rashid and all of a sudden England were back in the game. "We took a huge amount of commitment and overthinking to assess this pitch", he said. "It was a tight game and could have gone either way". We felt in a bit of form [after the second ODI] but it Ben and myself a while to find the middle of the bat. The fourth ODI will be played at the University Oval in Dunedin on Wednesday and the fifth at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Saturday.