Cook himself played an important innings in England's chase. (AP Photo)
Napier: England captain Alastair Cook has heaped praise on his team after they leveled the three-match ODI series 1-1 with a fluent eight-wicket win over New Zealand on Wednesday. The tourists were lifted by five wickets from bowling spearhead James Anderson and taken home by fifties to Cook, Jonathan Trott and Joe Root to keep the series alive heading into the final ODI at Auckland on Saturday.
"I thought the way we bowled up front was outstanding," said Cook after the win at McLean Park. "Steven Finn and James Anderson really bowled well. We gave them nothing to get going, took some wickets, and put them under pressure. It was only a fantastic effort from Brendon McCullum that got them up to a decent score. We knew 270 was probably a little bit below par on that wicket. We knew if we kept our heads batting and kept wickets in hand, as it proved it was quite an easy chase."
Anderson took 5 for 34 in 9.5 overs to help bowl New Zealand out for 268 in 48.5 overs - his first five-wicket haul since November 29, 2009 - before Root and Trott finished the chase with an unbeaten partnership of 121 in 95 balls. Cook was particularly impressed with 22-year-old Root's quickfire 79 off 56 balls.
"He's been excellent since he came in, he's a really good kid," said the England captain. "He works really hard and he's got a lot of talent. He's got all the right things to make him a really good player. We need to keep his feet on the ground - you know what these Yorkshiremen are like - but he's done well."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, whose 36-ball 74 had helped Ross Taylor (100) revive the innings before six wickets fell for 26 runs, accepted that a total of 269 was not enough. "We were 20 runs under par. I thought England's bowlers put us under a lot of pressure and with their batting they played brilliantly to knock off 270 fairly comfortably. Credit to them, I thought they bowled outstandingly, especially James Anderson."