Gus Atkinson stars on T20 debut as England batter New Zealand

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Jonny Bairstow and Harry Brook put New Zealand’s bowlers to the sword, before debutant Gus Atkinson took four wickets as England produced another dominant display to win the Second T20 at Old Trafford by 95 runs.

Just 48 hours after a comfortable seven-wicket victory in Durham, Jos Buttler’s side were again in control throughout, Atkinson claiming four-for-20, the best ever figures by an Englishman on T20I bow, as the tourists were rolled for 103 inside just 14 overs.

Earlier, Bairstow had batted through the innings to finish unbeaten on 86 from 60 balls, his first half-century in white-ball cricket since last year’s horror leg-break, as England posted 198 for four, while another masterful innings from Brook strengthened a Cricket World Cup case that is surely becoming impossible to ignore.

Brook was the shock omission from the provisional 15-man squad named last month for the autumn’s 50-over World Cup defence in India, but a finalised group does not have to be submitted until late-September and the 24-year-old could hardly be doing more to force a rethink.

Having scored the fastest century ever in the Hundred last week, and then a rapid unbeaten 43 in the series opener at Durham on Wednesday, Brook continued his stellar form, lifting Ish Sodhi over extra cover for successive sixes to kickstart another domineering knock of 67 from just 36 deliveries.

Having arrived at the crease after Dawid Malan’s dismissal to a clever piece of bowling from Mitch Santner for a four-ball duck, Brook joined Bairstow in a brutal partnership of 131 through the middle overs, the highest in T20Is at Old Trafford.

From 81 for two after 11 overs on what initially looked a tricky pitch, the pair added exactly 100 runs in the next seven before Brook’s departure and some fine death bowling from the impressive Adam Milne kept England just shy of the 200-mark. Milne was outstanding without reward in his nought-for-23, swinging the ball up top and leaking just four runs from the penultimate over, but every other Kiwi bowler went around the park in another assault that will do little to boost confidence ahead of the two sides’ meeting in the World Cup opener next month.

Tim Southee was the most expensive of the lot and having taken the Black Caps skipper apart with three successive boundaries to move into the seventies, Bairstow looked well on course to become only the fifth England player to register centuries in all three formats.

In the end, he fell well short, starved of the strike late on, but a destructive display featuring a dozen boundaries marked a welcome indicator of white-ball form for a player who will be key to England’s hopes in India, but who has had precious little opportunity to play red-ball cricket since returning to fitness just in time for the Ashes.

Already fast-tracked into the likely World Cup squad on account of his blistering pace, Surrey seamer Atkinson took just four balls to claim the key wicket of Devon Conway as his first in international cricket, before Sam Curran’s slower ball did for Finn Allen only three deliveries later to leave the visitors eight for two inside the powerplay, a position from which they never threatened.

The first six wickets each fell to different bowlers, including Brydon Carse, who picked up where he left off at on T20 debut at Durham to have the dangerous Daryl Mitchell caught behind without scoring.

Moeen Ali was the one England bowler to finish the night wicketless as Buttler made full use of his options, but the all-rounder was in the game at slip to take a superb catch to make Milne, reverse-sweeping, Adil Rashid’s second victim.

Tim Seifert top scored for New Zealand with 39 but fell to Atkinson next ball with his team still more than 100 runs short, and the 25-year-old made short work of mopping up the tail, claiming the final two wickets in successive balls.