A record-breaking century by Ben Stokes propelled England to a crushing 181-run win over New Zealand in the third one-day international on Wednesday as the hosts took a 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
Stokes, who last month reversed his retirement from ODI cricket, hammered a 124-ball 182 to record England’s highest individual score in the 50-overs format, bettering Jason Roy’s previous record of 180.
The England test captain hit nine sixes and 15 fours in an entertaining knock to lift the hosts to a total of 368 after being put into bat at The Oval.
“Coming back into the team after a while out, it’s nice to come back and help the team,” Stokes said.
“We spoke about putting New Zealand under pressure, especially up top. As the experienced players, you want to be showing the guys to go out there and do that.”
Left with a mountain to climb, New Zealand buckled under the pressure in the chase as they were bowled out for 187, with Glenn Phillips’s gritty 72 leading their scoring. The only other batter to score more than 20 runs was Rachin Ravindra (28).
Five England bowlers took wickets, but it was Chris Woakes who stood out as he dismissed a key trio of New Zealand batters in Will Young, Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham. Liam Livingstone also took three wickets while Reece Topley picked up two.
“We knew we had to bat well. The way they bowled in the top 10 overs, getting movement in the air and off the surface. We weren’t able to build partnerships,” New Zealand captain Latham said.
England, who suffered a top-order collapse in the second ODI, appeared set for the same fate when Trent Boult dismissed Jonny Bairstow with the first ball of the match.
Two overs later, England were in even more trouble when Boult struck again as Joe Root inside-edged a shot onto the stumps.
But with backs against the wall, Stokes and Dawid Malan combined for a massive 199-run partnership, which came to an end when Malan departed on 96 after feathering a catch to Latham off Boult.
Stokes also struck up partnerships with Jos Buttler and Livingstone, but once he holed out to square leg, England’s tailenders were quickly mopped up by Boult and Ben Lister.
“Really pleased with the performance. There’s levels that we can keep achieving, there’s more in the tank,” England captain Buttler said.
Boult finished with figures of 5-51 – his sixth five-wicket haul in ODIs. Lister, brought into the team as a replacement for the injured Adam Milne, picked up three wickets.
The final ODI of the series will be played at Lord’s on Friday. The series is crucial for both sides’ preparations as they look ahead to next month’s Cricket World Cup in India.