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Jonny Bairstow. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/STU FORSTER
Jonny Bairstow. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/STU FORSTER

Jonny Bairstow hit the second fastest 50 for England in Test cricket as they made light work of a 113-run target on Monday to beat New Zealand by seven wickets in the third and final Test at Headingley and ensure a 3-0 series victory.

Bairstow, whose batting heroics were key to England winning the second Test, picked up where he left off from Trent Bridge as he brought up his half-century in 30 balls and then took England to victory on the last day with an unbeaten 71, finishing it off with a six.

An 111-run partnership with Joe Root, who was 86 not out, saw England reach the competitive victory target of 296 as they completed their first clean sweep of a home series in more than a decade.

Rain delayed the start of play by 90 minutes but it then took just more than an hour, and 15.2 overs, for England to canter to victory.

Resuming at 183/2 overnight, they needed 113 runs for victory and were very much in the driving seat even when Ollie Pope was dismissed with the fifth ball of the day.

Pope went for 82 as Tim Southee knocked over his off stump to offer New Zealand hope of a potential upset comeback, but that was quickly dispelled by Bairstow’s bashing of their bowlers.

Playing on his home ground, Bairstow hit eight fours and three sixes as he took to the bowling and left Root, who had been 55 overnight, little chance to get to a century.

It was the third successive Test in which England reached a substantive target with an aggressive batting display. They won the first Test at Lords as they chased down 277 runs while in the second Test at Nottingham reached 299/5 in their second innings, with Bairstow scoring 136.

“It was a pretty special start and to do it so quickly, phenomenal,” said new England captain Ben Stokes.

The last time England swept a home series was a 4-0 success over India in 2011.

“We had an opportunity to win in all three Tests but credit to the way England went about it. They chose to counterattack and did it very well,” said New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.

England now move quickly on to completing last year’s series against India after the fifth Test at Old Trafford was cancelled because of Covid-19 cases. It will now be played at Edgbaston, starting on Friday.

Reuters

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