Whisper it, but a cricket series between New Zealand and England is tied – and there might not be a satisfactory conclusion in store.

A historic partnership between Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan has seen England level the five-match Twenty20 series at two apiece, though with rain forecast for the decider in Auckland on Sunday, there's no guarantee that fans will be able to witness a fair and fitting finale.

Sound familiar?

(No, me neither.)


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But based on tonight's effort, the Black Caps bowlers probably wouldn't mind seeing less of the England batsmen, after being utterly decimated by Malan and Morgan at Napier's McLean Park.

Joining forces in the eighth over with England at 58-2, the pair added a mammoth 182 from just 76 balls to launch the visitors to 241-3 – England's highest Twenty20 total - with Malan (103 not out) producing their highest individual innings.

The Black Caps were never likely to chase it down and indeed didn't come close, falling 76 runs short, left to rue some wayward bowling after deciding to bowl first for the first time this series.

In fairness, the New Zealanders could have bowled excellently and it may not have made a difference, such was the power and precision that Malan and Morgan were striking with.
England's eventual total looks all the more absurd when considering they were poking around at 18-1 after four overs, while even at the halfway mark - 88-2 - a competitive game looked on the cards.

However, that's when things got rather out of hand.

Malan - who was on a rather bleh 19 from 18 balls – viciously accelerated, while Morgan – caught in the deep on 11 by Daryl Mitchell, only for the all-rounder to throw the ball away as he slid towards the boundary rope – was just as ruthless as he brought up England's fastest T20 50, off just 21 balls.

Mitchell Santner was first to cop it, watching his figures balloon from 2-5 to 2-25 in the span of an over, but nobody was let off easy in the cleanest hitting of the series by far.

The pair combined to hit 16 fours and 13 sixes as their 100 partnership came up from just 49 balls – Tim Southee the next man to see an over punished for 20 – and while Morgan was caught in the deep for a second and third time, the crowd was immediately silenced on both occasions due to the deliveries being correctly deemed as over waist-height.


Also getting dangerous height were some of Malan's sixes. Three came from one Ish Sodhi over which went leaked 28 runs – the leg-spinner lucky his worst ball was only scuffed for two – and an over later Trent Boult was smoked into the stand over mid-wicket to bring up England's fastest Twenty20 hundred.

Dawid Malan of England celebrates his century. Photo / Getty
Dawid Malan of England celebrates his century. Photo / Getty

It was one of many records to tumble – the partnership was the England's highest in Twenty20s, and the largest third-wicket stand in Twenty20 international history – while 153 runs were belted from the last 10 overs, and 76 from the last four.

Mitchell was sacrificed to the batting gods in the penultimate over and watched on as another 25 runs were tacked on to the scoreboard, before Morgan finally holed out with two balls remaining – Mitchell this time clinging onto the catch that he couldn't 80 runs earlier, as the skipper departed for 91 from 41 balls.

He left to a standing ovation, one the Black Caps were hoping they would get at the end of the night as they set about what would have been the second-highest successful chase in Twenty20 history.

At 49-0 after four overs, they had a glimmer of hope, but Martin Guptill picked out mid-wicket, the big hitting Colins – Munro and de Grandhomme – holed out in consecutive balls, and neither Tim Seifert nor Mitchell could get going.

There wasn't much else they could do but hit and hope, and Southee at least ensured his side would avoid a record rout by smashing a rapid 39 from 15 balls.

However, he was trapped lbw – leggie Matt Parkinson ending with four wickets – and come the end, the only standing required by the Napier faithful was to leave their seats and make a beeline for the exit.