A whirlwind century by Dawid Malan in a record-breaking stand with Eoin Morgan saw England crush New Zealand in the fourth T20 by 76 runs in Napier on Friday to level the series with one game remaining.
Malan was unbeaten on 103 at the close of the England innings with Morgan out in the final over for 91 as England posted an imposing 241/3 and then rolled New Zealand over for 165 with 19 balls remaining.
The overwhelming victory set up a winner-takes-all finale in the fifth and final game in Auckland on Sunday.
Malan’s 48-ball century was the fastest T20 hundred by an Englishman, his 182-run stand with Morgan i the highest by an England pair and the 241 total is an England record.
Morgan’s 21-ball 50 is also an England record.
“The message is always the same, play aggressively and back yourself,” Malan said. “It’s not very often you have days like that when every time you have a hack at one it lands safe or goes for six. It’s as good as it gets.”
Between them, the two left-handers hit 13 sixes and 16 fours with Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult the only New Zealand bowlers to escape with a run rate below 10 an over.
New Zealand started their run chase at a fast clip reaching 54 in the fifth over when Martin Guptill was dismissed for 27 and wickets fell regularly after that.
Only Tim Southee (39) and Colin Munro (30) offered any significant resistance while Matt Parkinson took 4/47 for England and Chris Jordan finished with 2/24.
Malan is only the second England player to score a T20 century after Alex Hales, who needed 60 balls to reach his hundred.
He advanced from 61 to 89 in a brutal attack during an Ish Sodhi over when he belted three sixes, two fours and a two, and reached his record century pulling Boult over the square-leg boundary for another six.
It was a much-need confidence booster for England who won the first match in the series and were then well outplayed in the next two.
After losing the toss, England then lost early wickets with Santner removing Jonny Bairstow for eight and Tom Banton for 31 to have the impressive figures of 2/5 from his first two overs.
But that changed dramatically as Morgan and Malan took charge and blasted 20 off Santner’s next over.
Of the New Zealand bowlers, Blair Tickner finished with none for 50 off his four overs, while Sodhi had 0/49 off three overs and Southee bowled his full complement to finish with 1/47.