New Zealand perfect opponents for England

England caretaker coach Paul Farbrace believes New Zealand are the ideal opponents for his side as they look to bounce back from an embarrassing first-round exit at this year’s Cricket World Cup.

The Black Caps levelled their five-match one-day series with England at 1-1 following a rain-affected 13-run victory under the Duckworth/Lewis (D/L) method at The Oval on Friday.

England — set an initial target of 399 for victory — were 7-345 and needing 54 more runs from 37 balls when rain stopped play.

When the match resumed, their target had been adjusted to 34 off 13 balls; in the end they fell short but still finished on a hugely creditable 9-365.

This latest display of bold batting came just days after England set two national records in making 9-408 and beating World Cup finalists New Zealand by 210 runs in the series opener at Edgbaston on Tuesday.

It was all a far cry from their lacklustre efforts during this year’s World Cup, where they failed to defeat a single Test nation and suffered several convincing reverses, including an eight-wicket thrashing by New Zealand in Wellington in February.

The Blackcaps’ attacking approach won plenty of plaudits and Farbrace was happy to add his own tribute.

“It’s almost the perfect series for us, playing against a team that play the way they do — because we’re learning all the time,” Farbrace said.

“It makes it a little bit easier for us to try and match them, because they’re setting standards we want to achieve,” added Farbrace, who’s set to hand over the reins to Australia’s Trevor Bayliss ahead of next month’s home Ashes series.

England captain Eoin Morgan suggested the D/L method needed to be “looked at” given what happened at The Oval.

Unlike previous systems for revising targets in rain-affected matches, Duckworth/Lewis takes into account the number of wickets lost.

As a result, New Zealand were ‘in credit’ for scoring 398 for the loss of just five wickets, thanks mainly to Ross Taylor’s unbeaten 119, Kane Williamson’s 93 and Martin Guptill’s even 50.

“It’s a huge ask, probably not only to chase down 399 but to have 34 to chase in 13 balls — given we set it up so deep, and the guys were in and momentum was with us,” said Morgan, who himself made a blistering 88 off just 47 balls at The Oval.

“I think, as the game evolves — particularly as much as it has done in 50-over cricket — Duckworth/Lewis could certainly be looked at,” the left-handed batsman explained.

“But we were glad to get back out there and get a result. There’s nothing more frustrating than rain ending the game.”

The series continues at Southampton on Sunday.

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