Jonny Bairstow proved an ideal stand-in as his unbeaten 83 took England to a 3-2 series-clinching win over New Zealand in the fifth one-day international at the Riverside on Saturday.
England, chasing a revised target of 192 in 26 overs, collapsed to 5-45 as left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner (3-31) took three wickets for four runs in seven balls.
But Yorkshire wicket-keeper/batsman Bairstow saw them to a three-wicket victory under the Duckworth/Lewis method, England finishing on 7-192 with six balls to spare.
Man-of-the-match Bairstow, only playing after first-choice keeper Jos Buttler suffered a hand injury on Friday, faced 60 balls including 11 fours, as during his maiden ODI fifty.
Together with Sam Billings (41), he turned the tide during a sixth-wicket stand of 80 in 57 balls.
Bairstow and Yorkshire teammate Adil Rashid (12 not out) then completed victory for a new-look England side with an unbroken stand of 54 balls.
“To make a contribution is fantastic,” said Bairstow, who was dropped on 39 and 56.
“The way the guys have gone about their business in this series is wonderful.”
England captain Eoin Morgan praised Bairstow’s knock by saying: “In what was probably our worst batting display of the series he stuck his hand up and won us the game.”
It was all a far cry from the World Cup, where England’s first-round exit included an embarrassing eight-wicket defeat by New Zealand.
This series, England and New Zealand set a new aggregate runs record of 3,151 for a five-match ODI campaign, surpassing the total of 2,963 shared by India and Pakistan in 2003/04.
“Some of the cricket we’ve seen over the last five games is nothing short of sensational,” said New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum.
The visitors made 9-283 in their full 50 overs after losing the toss.
Martin Guptill top-scored with 67, man-of-the-series Kane Williamson made exactly 50, Ross Taylor added 47 and Ben Wheeler bolstered the total with a quickfire 39 not out.
All-rounder Ben Stokes took three for 52 on his Durham home ground and leg-spinner Adil Rashid two for 45.