Ben Stokes struck the highest score by an England batsman in a one-day international on Wednesday, his 182 setting up a thrashing of New Zealand at The Oval as he sent a warning to the champions’ World Cup rivals just weeks before they begin the defence of their 50-over title in India. Stokes’s stunning innings was just slightly more than England’s colossal 181-run margin of victory that put them 2-1 up in a four-match series ahead of Friday’s finale at Lord’s. England were struggling at 13-2 after Trent Boult’s early double strike, which included Jonny Bairstow’s exit off the first ball of the match.
But Stokes and Dawid Malan (96) hit back with a third-wicket stand of 199 as England recovered to 368 all out.
New Zealand’s Glenn Phillips kept England at bay with 72 but when he was lbw to spinner Liam Livingstone, the Black Caps were all but beaten at 173-8.
Livingstone (3-16) ended the match with 11 overs to spare when he had No 11 Ben Lister stumped by England captain Jos Buttler as New Zealand were dismissed for 187.
“Coming back into the team after a while out, it’s nice to come back and help the team,” said player-of-the-match Stokes at the presentation ceremony.
– ‘Amazing’ –
Buttler hailed Stokes’s innings by saying: “He’s played a few good ones, but that was amazing.”
Boult kept New Zealand in the game with an impressive 5-51 in 9.1 overs, although England were set for a huge total at 348-5 when Stokes was dismissed.
But they lost their last five wickets for 20 runs, left-arm quick Boult wrapping up the innings with 11 balls to spare.
England, however, had more than enough runs.
Chris Woakes (3-31) did the bulk of the damage as New Zealand — without regular skipper Kane Williamson while the star batsman completes a pre-World Cup recovery from a knee injury — slumped to 37-4, with Reece Topley in the wickets as well.
England begin their quest to retain their 50-over global title defence against New Zealand — the team they defeated in a dramatic 2019 ‘Super Over’ World Cup final at Lord’s — in Ahmedabad on October 5.
And New Zealand coach Gary Stead said: “I don’t mind Ben Stokes. I’d rather he scored them (runs) now than on October 5.”
Stead took some comfort from the form of Boult, back in New Zealand’s ODI set-up this series for the first time in 12 months after turning down a central contract to play in Australia’s lucrative Big Bash League.
“It’s great to have Trent back,” said Stead. “In two games he’s showed his ability as a world-class player to knock the top off England. It’s just a pity we haven’t capitalised on those starts.”
Earlier, the 34-year-old Boult had Bairstow caught at deep backward square before inducing Joe Root to inside-edge onto his stumps.
But Stokes hit back in remarkable fashion with a 124-ball innings, including 15 fours and nine sixes, that surpassed Jason Roy’s previous England record of 180 against Australia at Melbourne in 2018.
One worrying sign for England, however, was the familiar sight of Stokes, whose previous ODI top score was 102 not out, grimacing in pain thanks to a chronic knee problem he hopes to manage all the way through the World Cup.
But Stokes, off the field at the start of New Zealand’s chase, said: “I just needed a little bit of treatment…”It (the knee injury) is getting better and better.”
Boult again troubled an England top-order once more missing Roy after the opener suffered a fresh back spasm.
But Malan, who missed England’s 79-run win in Southampton on Sunday to attend the birth of his son, responded with a 52-ball fifty as he looked to cement his place in a 15-man World Cup squad.
Malan, fell just shy of what would have been his fifth hundred in 20 ODIs when he got a faint edge to wicketkeeper Tom Latham.
But Stokes, in a dynamic display of shot-making, broke Roy’s record in style with a six off Lister, only to hole out off the paceman two balls later.
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