Playing with points to prove, Harry Brook and Dawid Malan guided England to an easy win over New Zealand in the first of four Twenty20 internationals between the teams.
Brook (43 not out off 27 balls) and Malan (54 off 42) shared a 54-run partnership as England reached its target of 140 with six overs to spare at Chester-le-Street for a seven-wicket victory.
England’s selectors surprisingly left Brook out of the squad for the 50-over World Cup in India starting in October but his form is making a mockery of that decision.
Widely viewed as one of the world’s most destructive batsmen, he starred in the recently completed edition of The Hundred and was devastating against New Zealand in hitting three sixes and two fours.
Malan, meanwhile, got a much-needed big score after some patchy recent form, reaching fifty for the 16th time in T20 internationals and helping to steady the innings after the early loss of Jonny Bairstow (4) in England’s reply to New Zealand’s 139-9.
Liam Livingstone (10) got England over the line with a huge pull for six. Jos Buttler, England’s captain and star batter, wasn’t even needed to bat.
Malan and Livingstone are in England’s World Cup squad and Brook is putting huge pressure on selectors to get the call, too, with the group heading for India not having to be finalized until the end of September.
Put into bat, New Zealand saw Glenn Phillips hit the team’s top score of 41 off 38 balls but the tourists struggled after losing three wickets in 12 balls from 25-0.
Pace bowler Brydon Carse had 3-23 off four overs on his T20 international debut while Luke Wood, who was hit for three sixes by Finn Allen (21) off the first over of the match, had figures of 3-37.
The second match of the series is in Manchester on Friday.