LONDON (AP) — Ben Stokes is in record-breaking form heading into the Cricket World Cup.
In clubbing 182 off 124 balls, Stokes made the highest score by an England player in one-day internationals to set up the team's 181-run win over New Zealand in the third match of the series at The Oval on Wednesday.
Stokes beat the previous best mark by an England player — 180 by Jason Roy against Australia in Melbourne in 2018 — and posted the 24th highest individual score ever in the 50-over format.
How he compiled his innings — a measured start of 13 in 19 balls before he opened his shoulders to hit nine sixes and 15 fours — underlined why England was so keen to get Stokes out of ODI retirement ahead of the team's defense of the World Cup title in India starting next month.
“Coming back into the team after a while out, it’s nice to come back and help the team," said Stokes, who added that he apologized to Roy for taking his record.
England, which had Jonny Bairstow out first ball, was 13-2 after 16 balls when Stokes and Dawid Malan (96 off 95 balls) came together and put on a 199-run stand for the third wicket. A late collapse after the departure of Stokes ended with England all out for 368, with Trent Boult impressing with the figures of 5-51.
The New Zealanders were reduced to 70-5 after recalled seamer Chris Woakes (3-31) removed three of the top five in the batting order, and only Glenn Phillips (72 off 76 balls) went big before they were bowled out for 187.
“We were thoroughly outplayed,” New Zealand captain Tom Latham said.
The tourists can only draw the series now, with England 2-1 up heading into the final match at Lord's on Friday. The teams shared their recent Twenty20 series 2-2.
Stokes, England's test captain, has made a seamless return to the ODI a year after retiring from the format because of what he described as an "unsustainable" schedule.
He made 52 in the first ODI and now has surpassed his previous best ODI knock of 102, making his fourth hundred in 93 innings in the format.
“He’s played a few good ones," England captain Jos Buttler said of Stokes, who has starred for the country in the big games in all formats, “but that was amazing.”
Stokes' spot in England's team for the World Cup — as solely a batter — is guaranteed and so appears Malan's after he came up just short of his fifth ODI century, when he was caught behind off Boult.
Elsewhere, there might be a few issues developing in the batting lineup three weeks out from the tournament.
Roy was absent again after having another back spasm hours before the match. The opener missed the first two games with the same problem and could now be a doubt for the World Cup.
Harry Brook, who is not in the provisional squad and is pushing to replace Roy or another batter, dropped out of the team to accommodate the return of Malan and has only made 25 and 2 in this series.
Meanwhile, Joe Root was dismissed for 4 to add to scores of 6 and 0 this series.
Also worrying Wednesday was the late-innings meltdown after Stokes' dismissal when he was caught by Will Young at square leg off a full toss from pacer Ben Lister. From 348-5, England was all out 22 balls later for the addition of just 20 runs.
As for the Black Caps, they left out spinner Mitchell Santner after he jarred his knee fielding in the second ODI and were completely outplayed with bat and ball.
England and New Zealand meet in the first game of the World Cup on Oct. 5.
AP cricket: https://apnews.com/hub/cricket