England did not have the best of starts to the ODI series against New Zealand, however, England skipper Eoin Morgan still has a reason to be happy.
Morgan and the England team welcomed star all-rounder Ben Stokes back into the team. Stokes, in his first international match since he was arrested outside a Bristol nightclub five months ago, hauled England back into contention with two wickets in his second spell as New Zealand nonetheless chased a target of 284 for eight with four balls to spare.
Thanks to Ross Taylor’s 18th one-day international century in a stand of 178 with Tom Latham (79) and then some late muscle from Mitchell Santner – who hit four sixes and two fours from 27 balls in his unbeaten 45 batting at number 8. New Zealand, therefore, clinched their ninth successive ODI victory to go 1-0 up with four to play.
“When you lose, it’s always frustrating … but there are big positives to take,” said Morgan.
Ben Stokes picked up two wickets in the game and could muster only 12 with the bat. Regarding Stokes' performance, Morgan said “I thought he adapted to conditions perfectly well, using slower balls well.”
The captain was able to report too that Stokes himself was in his element back on the international stage.“He’s delighted to be back – he’s told everybody that".
“It’s an awesome feeling when you’ve been away and you’re back in a fun environment, with lots of good friends around.I can vouch for that".
More than England's defeat, that Stokes finally made a return to the cricket field meant a lot more for the England skipper. “I spend a lot of time away while the Tests are on. You come back, and it puts a smile on your face,” said Morgan.
Stokes also drew a lot of credit for New Zealand's Ross Taylor who scored a ton to help his team to victory. Taylor's 18th ton helped the Kiwis to take an important lead in the series. Its a given that Morgan and co will bounce back in the series and with Stokes back, England now look a complete side all the more. Both teams play the next ODI on February 28.