New Zealand know they can’t afford to loosen their grip on the T20 series against England when they carry a 2-1 lead into the penultimate game in Napier on Friday.
Colin de Grandhomme, whose 55 off 35 balls earned him Player of the Match honours and provided the crux of New Zealand’s 14-run victory in the third match at Nelson, said the hosts would look to keep the pressure on England, against whom he admitted the World Cup final defeat still stung.
“Definitely you can’t give them an inch,” de Grandhomme said. “You’ve got to keep hitting them hard and try and win every game when you can.”
De Grandhomme stopped short of identifying revenge for the World Cup defeat as a source of motivation in this rather more low-key series, however.
“They’re pretty good lads and they’re a good team so it’s always nice beating them but we’ve got to move on from that,” he said. “Unfortunately that’s how things go. I think the boys are still hurting but some of the boys are good mates with the other boys and they get on well.”
De Grandhomme revelled in the No. 4 spot he has stamped his authority on over the past year, pressing the tempo through the middle overs before New Zealand’s bowlers snared 5 for 10 in 18 balls to quash England’s run chase.
“Definitely batting up the order in T20 is a lot more, probably, forgiving,” de Grandhomme said. “You get a better chance and you get an opportunity in the top six sometimes when the openers don’t do their jobs as well, so it gives me more freedom with the field in and it’s enjoyable.
“We had to bowl well and get a few wickets up top and then we’d put them under pressure … nine, 10 an over I think here is still very gettable because it’s only one hit and then five singles, if you like, and it’s not that hard but our bowlers executed and did a great job. The bowlers were actually happy with that total. I thought we were at least 20 short but the bowlers back themselves and win us games so, a good win.”
New Zealand bowling coach Shane Jurgensen was full of praise for de Grandhomme.
“He’s just been awesome, the way that he’s approached his batting,” Jurgensen said. “He comes out and it’s almost like you don’t see what stage the game is at, how many wickets have fallen. He just plays the way that he plays, as we know, but certainly playing a lot smarter cricket with the bat and I think that’s what he’s really learnt over the last 12 months.”
“He bowled quite well against India as well so he had a lot of confidence coming in that he can do it and that’s our job as coaches to just get him up get him ready to go and just get him to believe in his skills that he’s got,” Jurgensen said.
“I was a pretty tight game and England were in a strong position to win but I think we saw when we batted the runs slowed up at the end so that’s exactly what happened for both sides. I was really impressed with the way that we approached our bowling, particularly in the second half of the innings. We were basically in a bit of strife really.”
For England captain Eoin Morgan, this match was “one that got away”.
“We were in control for the whole chase until we were three or four down, probably that’s a lack of experience but the guys need to get more games into them at this level,” Morgan told Sky Sports. “But certainly that’s one that slipped away. Everything is about playing smart, aggressive cricket, and new guys coming in. There were a lot of positives but it’s a must-win game in Napier now.”