Bairstow, Stokes fire England to stunning victory
Jonny Bairstow’s astonishing century led England to a stunning win in the second Test against New Zealand which sealed a series victory.
On a breathless final day at Trent Bridge, Bairstow made the second-fastest century by an England batter in Test cricket as the hosts strolled to what should have been a challenging target of 299 from 72 overs.
Bairstow’s outrageous hitting took him to three figures from 77 balls, only just missing the England record of 76 balls that has stood for 120 years.
He was eventually out for 136 from 92 balls, having clubbed 14 fours and seven sixes in front of a delirious full house.
It was left to captain Ben Stokes, who ended 75 not out, to complete the win with 22 overs to spare. England had scored at almost a run a ball.
It sealed a remarkable turnaround from New Zealand posting 553 after being asked to bat. It is the highest score England have conceded in a Test they have gone on to win since 1894.
England take an unassailable 2-0 lead, vindicating the freewheeling approach of new captain Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum.
The home side can complete a clean sweep in the third and final Test at Headingley next week.
Electric England delight packed Trent Bridge
The 17,000 people who grabbed the free tickets on offer knew England had a chance of pulling off a special win, but no-one could have predicted the way New Zealand would be steamrollered in quite such spectacular fashion.
From 224-7 overnight, leading by 238, the Black Caps edged to 284 all out, leaving England the stiff task of scoring at more than four an over.
The home side had the benefit of a flat pitch and New Zealand being without injured fast bowler Kyle Jamieson. Even then, the run-chase was truly remarkable.
England had been adamant about their intent to pursue any target, and this was an awesome demonstration of what they can be capable of under Stokes and McCullum.
It resulted in victory in one of the most entertaining matches of all time. The 224 fours and 24 sixes is a new record for the most boundaries hit in a single Test.
At the centre of it all was Bairstow, who played one of the great innings by an England batter.
Though he could not be there at the end, he was given a huge hug by Stokes, then left to a spine-tingling standing ovation.
Brilliant Bairstow batters New Zealand
In terms of England’s early progress in the Stokes-McCullum era, Bairstow has been one of the last to taste success. When he did, he produced arguably his finest moment in an England Test shirt.
He was joined by Stokes at 93-4, with 206 required from less than 47 overs and New Zealand favourites. England took tea at 139-4 with Bairstow 43 from 48 balls.
What followed bordered on ridiculous. Bairstow began by hitting Trent Boult over his head for six, then hooked Matt Henry into the stands. Wherever New Zealand bowled, Bairstow belted the ball to the boundary.
At one stage, Bairstow had taken 59 runs from 29 balls and was on course to beat Gilbert Jessop’s 76-ball record for England’s fastest ton. Three figures eventually came, one ball too late, by punching Tim Southee through the off side.
The carnage did not end there. Off-spinner Michael Bracewell was carted into the leg side, all while Stokes, struggling after jarring his knee playing one of many big shots, played second fiddle.
When Stokes’ mobility returned, he smashed the biggest hit of the lot by sending Bracewell into the top tier.
A stand of 179 in just 20 overs was ended when Bairstow tickled Boult behind. Ben Foakes joined Stokes, who crashed the winning boundary. (BBC Sport)