Bell leads England to ODI clean sweep over New Zealand

Third ODI, Bristol

New Zealand 211-8 (42 overs): Kerr 57 (82); Bell 5-37

England 212-5 (38.4 overs): Sciver-Brunt 76* (84), Jones 50 (50); Rowe 2-38

England won by five wickets, win series 3-0


Lauren Bell's career-best 5-37 set up England's five-wicket win over New Zealand in the third one-day international at Bristol.

After afternoon rain delayed the start and reduced the game to 42 overs a side, the White Ferns were restricted to 211-8.

England slipped to 33-3 in reply but were rescued by Nat Sciver-Brunt and Amy Jones' fifth-wicket stand of 90.

Sciver-Brunt finished with 76 not out and Jones made a run-a-ball 50 as England got over the line with 20 balls remaining.

The win secures a series clean sweep for England, with a five-match T20 series to follow, starting at Southampton on Saturday.

England's triumph was instigated by Bell, 23, who bowled Sophie Devine for 43 for her first wicket, breaking a crucial third-wicket stand of 68 between the New Zealand captain and Amelia Kerr.

Kerr was then pinned lbw for 57, New Zealand's only half-century of the series, before Brooke Halliday was caught behind for 31 and both Izzy Gaze and Lauren Down were caught at mid-on.

It was the visitors' highest total of the series after being skittled for 156 and 141, but they still lost a flurry of wickets with four for 27 falling at the end of the innings.

An impressive powerplay with the ball then saw England's middle order exposed for the first time this series, with Tammy Beaumont trapped lbw for a duck, Heather Knight caught and bowled for nine and Maia Bouchier falling for 19.

Sciver-Brunt was dropped on 63 shortly after Jones' departure in the 31st over which added a few nerves, but she eventually paced her innings to perfection with Alice Capsey, unbeaten on 35, to calmly steer them to victory.

Bell’s best keeps New Zealand at bay

With the partnership between Kerr and Devine accelerating after the early departures of openers Suzie Bates and Georgia Plimmer, it seemed like it was proving to be third time lucky for New Zealand in terms of batting first in the series.

After two poor displays that had visibly frustrated Devine, the experienced campaigner was leading from the front with an aggressive, run-a-ball 43 before Bell’s reintroduction in the middle overs changed the course of the game.

Bell’s early career saw her sharp in-swing take most of the attention but she has matured impressively, her variations evident in this match-winning spell where she stepped up in the absence of the world's best spinner Sophie Ecclestone, who was rested.

Devine played on to a short ball, which forced Kerr into taking the aggressive role and she was trapped in front after swinging across the line following another important stand of 65 with Halliday.

Halliday was a little unlucky to glove a short ball behind to Jones, but both Gaze and Down were deceived by canny slower balls as England squeezed the pressure on the White Ferns’ out-of-sorts middle to lower order.

The slip from 181-4 to 211-8, though an improvement, mirrored New Zealand’s series so far which has consisted of some solid starts, glimpses of resistance from Kerr, Devine and Halliday, before wilting without one of those three at the crease.

But Bell’s form has come at a great time for England – she may not play all five of the T20s, depending on her workload, but they will be grateful for the time she has to continue gathering momentum and confidence before October's World Cup in that format.

Experienced duo guide England to victory

Finally, with a decent total to defend, New Zealand’s bowlers produced an opening burst of intent and aggression that troubled England’s top order for the first time.

Beaumont was unlucky to be given lbw to one that was missing leg stump, but it was a well-earned wicket for seamer Hannah Rowe, who had the opener dropped off the first ball of the innings and bowled with threatening swing and pace.

Rowe also drew a leading edge from England skipper Knight for a scratchy nine from 21 balls, while fellow seamer Molly Penfold used her pace and bounce efficiently to have Bouchier caught behind for 19 after previous scores of 67 and 100 in the series.

But their attack was thwarted by the experience and class of Sciver-Brunt and Jones, who calmly settled the nerves after the top-order wobble with sensible rotation of strike and patiently waiting for the bad ball once the opening bowlers had been removed.

With Bouchier’s stunning form and England chasing such low totals in the previous two games, there was potential for more trouble with the middle order so unused, but with the equation staying at around four an over for most of the chase, they could bat with few risks and New Zealand’s spinners offered little threat in the middle.

England were cruising, but Sciver-Brunt's crucial drop by Plimmer at cover after Jones' dismissal meant the finish was rather more subdued in the end.

But Capsey's valuable knock from 30 balls at number seven, her first in the series, added to a fine all-round effort which sees England go into the T20 series as strong favourites.

'We have evolved as a team' - reaction

England captain Heather Knight: "I'm really happy. We were put under pressure today. We had to find a way to claw back momentum and we did that brilliantly.

"We have evolved as a team, trying to dominate when we can but when conditions aren't right making sure we adapt, wrestle back momentum and put the pressure back on. So that is a really pleasing thing."

Player of the match Lauren Bell: "I have made a few changes to the mental side of the game. The skill is there, it is just applying it in a game which I managed to do today.

"With Sophie [Ecclestone] having a rest today meant a few of us had a big job to do. But we came together and it was a group effort."

New Zealand captain Sophie Devine: "I thought we showed a bit of resilience, we've been absolutely trounced the last two matches and we came back with a bit of ticker.

"I think T20 brings teams closer together. We're looking forward to parking this ODI series and moving into the T20s."