Dawid Malan revealed England’s plan to rotate him out of the side for the fifth and final Twenty20 was the catalyst for his belligerent century in the 76-run thumping of New Zealand.
Malan became only the second England batsman after Alex Hales to reach three figures in the sprint format with a sparkling 103 not out from 51 balls, a destructive innings containing nine fours and six sixes.
A stand of 182 alongside captain Eoin Morgan, who was in similarly unforgiving mood towards the Kiwi bowlers as he amassed 91 from 41 deliveries, formed the bedrock of England’s T20-best 241 for three at a balmy Napier.
New Zealand were unable to mount a dramatic fightback with the bat, subsiding to 165 all out after 16.5 overs, with Matt Parkinson taking four for 47, levelling the series at 2-2 and setting up a decider at Eden Park on Sunday.
A giddy Malan afterwards divulged that England’s initial plan would see him make way this weekend although he hopes his three-figure score may prompt a rethink.
He said: “I don’t know if I’m going to actually play (in Auckland), I think I was only due to play four games.
“That’s probably why I chanced my arm such a lot. I thought ‘if this is going to be the last one then I might as well try to make it count’.
“Thankfully it came off. A few of the mishits went for six and a couple of balls that I mishit just landed in gaps so that worked out really well.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m honestly buzzing at the moment. To have done it in the way I did it was unbelievable and I’m simply speechless about it. Hopefully I’ve given Morgs a bit of a headache.
“If I play (on Sunday) that would be good but if not then that’s just the way it works with the way that this tour was scheduled.”
Malan took 19 runs from his first 18 balls but needed only another 30 to carve his way to a three-figure score as he and Morgan ruthlessly exploited the shorter boundaries square of the wicket.
Morgan had earlier needed only 21 deliveries to reach his fifty, the fastest in T20s by an England batsman, bettering Jos Buttler’s 22-ball effort against Australia at Edgbaston last year.
The Irishman looked set to follow his former Middlesex team-mate to three figures but fell nine runs short after being dismissed in the final over.
Malan, whose 48-ball ton was quicker than Hales’ effort against Sri Lanka in 2014 by 12 deliveries, added: “I actually felt really good when I walked out there, I just found it quite tough to get the boundaries early.
“But when Morgs came out, he took the initiative and the way he played put their bowlers under pressure which then allowed me to feed off some of the loose balls and some of the plans that they had.
“The way Morgs came out changed the game a little bit and allowed me to piggy back on to him a bit.
“I was a bit disappointed for Morgs because the way he came out, to score 90 batting at four is a tough thing to do. The way he did it and to get that close, I was gutted for him not to get it.”
Malan – who revealed he was initially clueless England were into the final over of their innings, which may explain why the last ball of the innings was a dot – has made 50 or more in six of his nine T20 international innings.
Asked whether he is making an unanswerable case for at least a squad place in next year’s T20 World Cup, he responded: “I don’t know what else you can do, all you can do is score runs.
“If the runs that I score in Twenty20 aren’t enough to push or keep my name in the hat for the Twenty20s coming up and looking forward to the World Cup then I don’t know.
“You get judged on the amount of runs you score, nothing else really.”
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