Conway and Mitchell hit unbeaten centuries as New Zealand easily beats England in 1st ODI

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell both hit unbeaten centuries and shared a partnership of 180 runs to steer New Zealand to a dominant eight-wicket win over England on Friday in their first meeting in a one-day international since the epic Cricket World Cup final at Lord’s in 2019.

Set 292 to win, the New Zealanders reached the target with 26 balls to spare at Sophia Gardens as Conway (111) and Mitchell (118) each struck their fourth ODI hundreds.

It's the first of four matches in an ODI series between teams who will open the World Cup by playing each other in Ahmedabad on Oct. 5.

On this evidence, New Zealand is going into the tournament in better shape — and is on a three-match winning streak over England in limited-overs cricket after victories in the final two Twenty20 internationals of their series. That finished 2-2 on Tuesday.

“It’s certainly not the World Cup — for us it was a great opportunity as a group to play against a quality side,” Conway said. “We’ve got another three opportunities to do that."

Ben Stokes, who has opted to come out of ODI retirement ahead of England’s World Cup title defense in India, marked his return to the 50-over format by being one of four batters to post fifties on what appeared a tough track at first.

Stokes hit 52 after a quick knock of 54 from Dawid Malan, who was part of an emergency opening partnership with Harry Brook (25) because of injuries to Jonny Bairstow and Jason Roy. Brook has been controversially left out of England’s World Cup squad and was staking a claim for a late call-up.

New Zealand was on top after removing Joe Root for 6 to leave England 101-3 in the 21st over but Stokes and captain Jos Buttler, who was the top scorer with 72 off 68 balls on his 33rd birthday, steadied the innings with a partnership of 88.

Big-hitting Liam Livingstone weighed in with a lively 52 off 40, including three sixes, in a 77-run stand with Buttler before both fell to Tim Southee in the same over late on.

David Willey's unbeaten 21 included a six down the ground off the last ball, and England seemed to have set a testing target.

Allrounder Rachin Ravindra had 3-48 off his 10 overs of spin.

New Zealand was always ahead of the run rate and batted with a great tempo. Opener Will Young — picked ahead of Finn Allen — hit 29 and Henry Nicholls 26 before Conway and Mitchell came together with the score at 117-2 and took England's attack apart. Adil Rashid (1-70 in eight overs) came in for heavy punishment as he was smashed over the shorter boundaries by Mitchell especially.

Conway clinched the win with a straight six off Livingstone.

“We thought (England’s total) was slightly above par, actually," Conway said. "The way Daryl came out was awesome. He really put his foot down, showed intent and then certainly made my job pretty easy at the other end.”

Former England captain Andrew Flintoff was in Cardiff for the game. He was hospitalized in December after he suffered facial injuries in an accident while shooting for TV program “Top Gear" and has kept a low profile since.

The second ODI is in Southampton on Sunday.


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