Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket
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England 311 for 9 (Malan 127, Ravindra 4-60) beat New Zealand 211 (Ravindra 61, Nicholls 41, Moeen 4-50) by 100 runs
Dawid Malan completed the century that eluded him on Wednesday, and in the process surely confirmed that he will be the first name on England's team-sheet for their World Cup opener in Ahmedabad in three weeks' time, after underpinning his team's emphatic 100-run victory with a display of unrelenting serenity at Lord's.
Moeen Ali duly sealed the match, and the series, with figures of 4 for 50, including two in two balls under the floodlights. But Malan's innings - 127 from 114 balls all told - remained the stand-out performance on a night when only Rachin Ravindra, with some entertaining late blows to go alongside his own four-wicket haul, passed fifty.
By the contest's end, however, all thoughts were already turning to more pressing matters looming in India next month, and on a day when Jason Roy's hopes of a World Cup berth were left in limbo as he missed out on selection once again, New Zealand were left with worries of their own after a string of injuries in the field, most devastatingly a blow to the right thumb for Tim Southee, which was later confirmed to be a potentially tournament-ending fracture.
For Malan, however, this was just another opportunity to live in the present - and in a peculiar era for English ODI cricket since the 2019 World Cup, few players have done so with more gusto than he. His fifth 50-over century in 21 innings also took him past 1000 runs in the format, equalling the England record set by Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott, while his haul of 14 fours and three sixes by far outshone the rest of his team-mates. It showcased a player flushed with form, focus and utter confidence.
With 54 and 96 to his name in this series already, Malan displayed his compact power from the get-go, smoking a brace of fours through the covers and point in Southee's opening over, to reaffirm the sense that the "shirt is his", as Stuart Broad once put it when his Test place was under threat. Roy, who was not considered match-fit after a series of back spasms, may yet be given a chance to prove himself against Ireland next week, but already it feels he's fighting for a back-up role.
After England won the toss and chose to bat, Roy's habitual partner, Jonny Bairstow, fell in Matt Henry's third over, flinching outside off for Daryl Mitchell to scoop up the chance low at slip. Bairstow initially stood his ground, doubting whether the ball had carried, but though the third umpire confirmed he had to go, the chance had not been entirely cleanly taken - Mitchell quickly followed him off the pitch nursing a dislocated finger, though he did return to bowl a useful spell with the ball.
Out came Joe Root - a lock in England's World Cup plans, no doubt, but even a player of his indisputable class needs the reassurance of form ahead of such a marquee tournament. Instead, he arrived at the crease with scores of 6, 0 and 4 to his name, and proceeded to grind out his scratchiest display of the lot.
Root has form for this lack of form on this ground. In the World Cup final four years ago, he was hounded by Colin de Grandhomme's lack of pace and limited to 7 from 30 balls. Here, he was dropped twice in the gully before he had reached double figures, and incredibly on both occasions it was the offending fielder who left the field instead - first Finn Allen, nursing a cut finger, and then, more ominously, Southee, who looked in some pain after a hard blow to his thumb. NZC subsequently confirmed a dislocation and fracture, adding that he would undergo further assessment on Saturday. Ben Lister, himself a replacement in the party for Adam Milne, later hobbled off the field with a hamstring strain, and likewise did not return - although, unlike Southee, he did come out to bat in the contest's final throes.
As in the World Cup final, Root found his options limited by the presence of a deep third to deny him value for his deflections down through the cordon, let alone his trademark scoop shot, and it wasn't until his 24th ball that he finally got his first boundary away, a cathartic pull through wide long-on off Ravindra. The drinks break seemed to have settled him down as he took Ravindra for two more boundaries through midwicket in his next over, the latter a flat six, only for the shot to let him down soon afterwards, as he mowed across the line to be bowled for an unconvincing 29 from 40.
Root wasn't alone in finding the going tough, however. Harry Brook, recalled at his preferred No. 4 berth with Ben Stokes understandably resting up after his record 182 on Wednesday, made a scratchy 10 from 15 - and 37 from 68 for the series, which is hardly the form he required to demand a rethink in England's World Cup plans. His innings ended in grim fashion too, as he yanked a half-tracker from Ravindra straight to mid-on.
Even Jos Buttler, with 36 from 31 including a trademark wristy thump for six over long-off, was arguably a notch below his fluent best, as he attempted to launch Mitchell's medium-pace in a similar direction only to pick out the substitute Trent Boult at mid-off.
Malan, by contrast, was unperturbed by the struggles around him. Having ignited England's powerplay with three fours in a row off Southee, the best of them another crunching drive through the covers, he cruised through to his fifty from an even 50 balls, then reset his focus to complete the landmark that had eluded him twice before in the series.
He accelerated into the 80s with a vicious burst of speed - three fours in a row, including the reverse-sweep that he reserves for his most composed knocks, then a massive flat six over midwicket off Kyle Jamieson to reach his 1000th ODI run. He had a moment of alarm with his century looming, edging Henry inches past the keeper to move to 99, but after permitting himself three dots to recompose himself, he tucked a brace off his pads, before peeling off his helmet to salute an appreciative Lord's.
And, having matched one Viv Richards record, for a time it looked odds-on that Malan would surpass another - Richards' 138 in the 1979 World Cup final, still the highest ODI score on this ground - and maybe even, with ten overs remaining, Stokes' newly minted England record. Instead, on 127, he chased a wide one from Ravindra and slumped to the crease in self-admonishment after feathering a nick to Tom Latham.
Not for the first time this series, however, Malan's efforts were made to look even better once he'd left the field. Much as they had done in adversity at The Oval too, New Zealand turned the screw on England's lower-order in the death overs. Moeen chased an even wider one from Ravindra to hole out for 3, while Liam Livingstone was repeatedly guilty of losing his shape on the big wind-up, as he drifted along to 28 from 38 with a solitary six, before being nailed lbw by Jamieson.
Sam Curran connected lustily on three off-side boundaries in his 20 from 13, before Henry scrambled the seam to nip one down the slope, but not for the first time, David Willey applied some late humpty with 19 from 11, before Brydon Carse launched the final ball of the innings for a massive six over long-off, as England pushed their target well past 300.
If New Zealand were to pose any threat, then Devon Conway - the star of their startlingly comprehensive win in the first ODI - was the obvious man on whom to anchor their chase. However, on 7 from 12, he called himself through for a sharp single off Will Young's pad, but Buttler scooted round quickly behind the stumps, discarding his glove in the process to ping down the stumps with the batter a foot short.
Young himself couldn't hang around to pick up his partner's mantle, nicking an excellent delivery in the channel from David Willey through to Buttler for 24, while Daryl Mitchell - still batting at No. 4 despite his finger injury - managed just 4 from 14 balls before the impressive Carse bowled him through the gate with the third delivery of his spell.
And from that point onwards, there was little threat of a fightback, particularly once England's spinners, Moeen and Livingstone had settled into a constrictive tandem spell.
Moeen could have struck first-ball had he reviewed an lbw against Latham, but then got him two balls later anyway as Latham swung across the line to be bowled off his pads for 13, and though Henry Nicholls shored up New Zealand's challenge with a doughty 41 from 48, he became Moeen's second victim after Buttler this time decided to gamble on the review, and got three reds.
When Glenn Phillips took on a rare full-toss from Livingstone, and launched it down Brook's throat at deep midwicket, New Zealand knew it was not going to be their night. Ravindra resisted with a flurry of boundaries, including three in a row to ruffle Carse's figures, but Curran yorked him for 61 to cement the 3-1 win.
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