Jonny Bairstow’s impressive batting display to no avail as England lose

A one-man batting show from Jonny Bairstow was not enough for England as New Zealand sealed a six-wicket win at Trent Bridge to level the T20 series 2-2.

England captain Jos Buttler rested himself for the decider and would have been happy with what he saw as Bairstow smashed 73 from 41 balls at the top of the order, with six sixes and five fours to his name.

That conjured memories of his match-winning Test century against the same opponents at the same ground last summer, but after he holed out in the 12th over England ran out of steam as they slowed to 175 for eight.

Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone both made 26 but neither were fully fluent as the Black Caps reasserted control with their spin contingent, who shared six wickets.

Meanwhile Harry Brook, whose hopes of forcing his way into England’s World Cup squad puts both Malan and Livingstone at some risk, could only manage four.

After finishing the England innings with five for 38 in the last five overs, New Zealand came out firing and made a confident pursuit to complete their comeback from 2-0 down with Buttler making an unexpected substitute’s outing behind the stumps after Bairstow reported a niggle.

Tim Seifert (48), Glenn Phillips (42) and Mark Chapman (40no) combined to take down England, who could not keep a check on the boundary count.

England v New Zealand – Fourth Vitality IT20 – Trent Bridge
England’s Rehan Ahmed (right) celebrates the wicket of New Zealand’s Tim Seifert with Moeen Ali (Tim Goode/PA)

The pick of the home side’s bowling attack was 18-year-old Rehan Ahmed, making his debut on home soil after his rapid rise over the winter.

He was sharp and economical with two for 27 in his four-over allocation and also completed a run out, a timely reminder of his promise almost six months since his last England appearance.

The real business is now set to begin, with a ODI series starting in Cardiff on Friday in what represents a final warm-up for next month’s World Cup in India.

But England, whose evening ended with 16 balls unbowled as Luke Wood mis-fielded to gift the winning runs, will need to sharpen up.

England v New Zealand – Fourth Vitality IT20 – Trent Bridge
Jonny Bairstow hit six sixes for England (Tim Goode/PA)

Bairstow began in electric form as he came out swinging and rendered his opening partner Will Jacks a virtual bystander.

The Yorkshireman, favouring the leg side, jabbed Matt Henry for six over midwicket, then greeted Kyle Jamieson by twice heaving him over the ropes. When Tim Southee attempted to exert some contol with a fuller length, he was pumped over long-on.

Jacks, who would later nick Ish Sodhi for 16 to complete a quiet series, was confined to rotating the strike as his partner accounted for 43 of the first 50 runs.

No English batter has ever reached a half-century inside the six-over powerplay before but Bairstow came within two runs of the feat, all at a flamboyant strike rate of exactly 200.

England v New Zealand – Fourth Vitality IT20 – Trent Bridge
Bairstow looks dejected after being caught out by New Zealand’s Daryl Mitchell (Tim Goode/PA)

With Jacks gone, Bairstow continued to carry the show, bringing up the England hundred by stepping back and lifting a Mitchell Santner drag-down for his sixth six. He was gone next ball, looking for another big blow down the ground, but he had left a formidable platform.

England never regained their confidence.

Brook chipped a modest Sodhi delivery to hands, ending an eight-ball stay that did not advance his World Cup cause any further, and Malan did not convince before both he and stand-in skipper Moeen Ali were caught off Santner in the 16th over.

Livingstone and Ahmed both cleared the ropes before the end but it was a largely tame end after Bairstow’s explosive start.

England v New Zealand – Fourth Vitality IT20 – Trent Bridge
Luke Wood celebrates bowling out New Zealand’s Finn Allen (not pictured) (Tim Goode/PA)

England knew they were in for a match from the very first ball of the reply, Finn Allen drilling Sam Curran handsomely wide of mid-off for four.

Allen helped himself to two more as he set the tone for the chase, but lost his off stump to Wood as he shuffled across his crease.

That left Seifert to pick up the baton and he thrashed Brydon Carse and Wood for sixes.

An early look at Adil Rashid cost England 15 and by the time the field dropped back New Zealand were 10 ahead of England’s powerplay mark on 73 for one.

The target quickly looked considerably closer than it had done at the break, but a double breakthrough soon rebalanced the scales.

Daryl Mitchell found himself run out in the seventh over, Wood with a dynamic pick up and throw that allowed Ahmed to take the bails at the bowler’s end.

The youngster then grabbed one for himself, cutting off Seifert for 48 with a smart caught and bowled for his first scalp on English soil.

Ahmed was calmness personified as he leapt to claim the chance and emerged with reputation enhanced as he added the scalp of the big-hitting Phillips, who tore into Rashid.

But England never got their noses in front as Chapman saw them home in the 18th over.