England edge out New Zealand to complete ODI series whitewash

<span>Lauren Bell leads <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:England;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">England</a> off after her maiden international five-wicket haul.</span><span>Photograph: Michael Steele/ECB/Getty Images</span>

Lauren Bell took her first five-wicket haul in any form of senior cricket as England wrapped up a narrow one-day international whitewash against New Zealand at Bristol on Wednesday.

The match was reduced to 42 overs a side due to a 95-minute rain delay but New Zealand had nevertheless posted their highest total of the series – 211 for eight. But Bell’s interventions cut off promising innings from the captain, Sophie Devine, half-centurion Amelia Kerr and left-hander Brooke Halliday.

England then overhauled the total with five wickets to spare in spite of an early wobble, thanks to half-centuries from Amy Jones and Nat Sciver-Brunt – the latter unbeaten on 76, after New Zealand handed her a life at cover on 63, scuppering their chances of a face-saving dead-rubber win.

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The 23-year-old seamer Bell has had what she described on Wednesday as “a tricky few months”, forced into in-game experimentation thanks to the determination of the England coaches to alter her action to add greater pace, bounce and variation to her repertoire. “I’ve gone a long time not having to think much about how I bowl, and now with my change in action I have to concentrate on it,” Bell said.

But after being outbowled by Lauren Filer in the first match of this series, and sitting out the second, Bell said that she had experienced a “breakthrough lightbulb” moment, enabling her to maintain her focus in-game at Bristol – although, interestingly, she appeared to rely on her trusty stock favourites, in-swing and slower balls, to do the damage. First, she broke the rollicking 68-run partnership between Devine and Kerr by angling one in to Devine, who foolishly tried to cut and edged on to her own stumps.

Then, reintroduced with five overs remaining, Bell wiped out Kerr and Halliday in the same over – Kerr trapped lbw missing a slog sweep, and Halliday swishing down the leg side into the gloves of a diving Jones. Slower balls to Izzy Gaze and Lauren Down – who both skied catches to mid-off – completed the set.

“It [the change] has been a little bit challenging but moving forward in my career it will be one of the best things I’ve done,” Bell said.

With perennial wicket-taker Sophie Ecclestone rested, this was an interesting test for England, and while their fielding was as sharp as ever – Jones pouching two brilliant diving catches and Charlie Dean running out Georgia Plimmer with a direct hit from backward point – their batting was dozy at times. Tammy Beaumont did not even attempt to bring DRS to bear on her lbw decision, seemingly happy to walk off for a duck as England sunk to 33 for three within the eight-over powerplay – Maia Bouchier bounced out by Molly Penfold, and Heather Knight sending up a limp leading edge to bowler Hannah Rowe after struggling to 9 from 21 balls.

A 90-run partnership between Sciver-Brunt and Jones, though, steadied the ship. And while Jones feather-edged behind with 50 runs still needed, Alice Capsey was able to face down her own recent demons and remain with Sciver-Brunt to finish the job.