Ed Hawkins previews game one from Christchurch early on Friday and expects a decent show from the tourists...
"Despite England fielding a second string, we're not entirely convinced that New Zealand are worthy of support"
New Zealand v England
Friday 1 November 01.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
No Williamson, Boult for Kiwis
New Zealand's reputation as a competitive unit punching above its weight doesn't hold in T20 according to the ICC, who rate them No 6 in the world. That doesn't tell the whole story, though.
Recently they have been strong, winning five of their last seven and enjoying a 2-1 series victory over India. A five-game losing sequence at the start of 2018 has pushed them down the charts.
They are without Kane Williamson, their skipper, for this one. It's not a bad thing. They have a win rate of 63% without him as opposed to 50% with. Trent Boult will miss the first three matches and that's also something not to worry about. In the last two years Boult has an economy rate of 9.38 and he is fourth on the wickets list.
Instead, Lockie Ferguson is a dangerous operator and alongside Tim Southee, who leads, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner they have strong bowling line-up. The batting is also well-stocked. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro will be expected to start fast and Tim Seifert, a rising star, could split those openers or bat at No 3. Munro, who had a disappointing Caribbean Premier League, hit a 187 strike rate-ton against England in the last warm-up.
Changes for tourists
England are set to dish out three debut caps. Sam Curran, Pat Brown and Lewis Gregory are in line to play, meaning Tom Banton, the Somerset opener, will miss out. Jonny Bairstow and Dawid Malan, who has an excellent record in this format for England, are the opening pair.
This is an experimental England XI, then. And as we discussed in this week's Cricket...Only Bettor podcast (listen below), the formbook, which has them at No 2 in the world, is probably irrelevant. Ben Stokes, Jason Roy, Jofra Archer and Joe Root are not involved.
Eoin Morgan still leads, of course, and he could form an important middle-order engine room with Sam Billings. James Vince is set to be pretty at No 3. With the ball, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid won't let anyone down.
Pitch hard to call
The Hagley Oval has not hosted a T20 international before. The last five scores in the domestic Super Smash read: 132-2/172-1/122-2/112-1/193-2. That's a mixed bag if ever there was one. Going further back into 2018 and 2017, Wellington and Otago were bowled out, chasing for 88 and 83 respectively. It's seam and swing that has been doing the damage.
England can fight
New Zealand are 1.738/11 and England 2.3411/8. The Kiwi price has taken a big cut after Munro blitzed England in the second warm-up, but it should not be forgotten that Bairstow took down the Kiwis in the first game.
Despite England fielding a second string, we're not entirely convinced that New Zealand are worthy of support. Yes, they will go hard up front with bat and ball but there is enough nous in this England team to make them more competitive than the odds suggest.
The key will be preventing a flyer from New Zealand with the bat and getting off to a fast start of their own. Sam Curran and Brown will be an interesting new-ball pair with wickets in them while we rate the Malan-Bairstow axis.
Malan the man
Sportsbook can't split Guptill and Munro for top Kiwi bat honours at 11/4 the pair. But they can divide England opens Bairstow (also 11/4) and Malan. The former Middlesex man gets a 7/2 quote and, given his quality and chance to use the powerplay, it's hard not to reckon that should be shorter. Morgan is 4/1 and Billings, eye-catching at 7s.
Spin duo appeal
Spin duo Adil Rashid and Ish Sodhi have possibly been underrated by Sportsbook for top England and New Zealand bowler respectively. They both have 42.8% win rates over the last year and although the study sample is small, the odds are not. Rashid is 10/3 second favourite behind Brown at 3s. Sodhi is third favourite at 7/2.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
Back England 2.3411/8 (1pt)