Ed Hawkins believes the home side have been underrated in the three-match ODI series, with game one starting in Hamilton late tonight...
"New Zealand's durability and guts in this format is often underrated"
New Zealand to win 2-1 at [3.55]
New Zealand v England
Start time: 01.00GMT
TV: live on Sky Sports 1
The home side will add ballast to their bowling with the return of Kyle Mills. He is a welcome face to a squad which looked short of know-how in the Twenty20. There are other tweaks, too. Brendon McCullum will bat at No 5 and opening duty will be left to Martin Guptill and BJ Watling. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are at No 4 and No 5 respectively. Trent Boult, who has the name of an aspiring superhero, faces a battle for his place and punters may well prefer if the paceman is replaced by one of two all-roudners, Colin Munro or Andrew Ellis.
It is all change for England. Stuart Broad, the victorious Twenty20 captain, hands over the reigns to Alastair Cook. Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, James Anderson and Graeme Swann also return. Chris Woakes, who did not make an appearance either in the Twenty20 side is expected to bat at No 7. Joe Root, who takes over the No 4 berth in the absence of Kevin Pietersen, is a potential star. Jos Buttler keeps wicket.
England do not have a great record in the land of the Long White Cloud. They have only twice won bilateral series there, the last in 1992. New Zealand, meanwhile, recently stunned South Africa on their own soil. So do England deserve to be as short as [1.54] for the three-match series? Not in our book. They were competitive in India but New Zealand's durability and guts in this format is often underrated. It should be noted, in particular, that England's returning players have had no warm-up to speak of and Anderson and Swann have not played since mid-December. A 2-1 New Zealand win is probably even better value at [3.55] in what should be a tight affair.
England must be on their guard from ball one in Hamilton. If they are batting first a fast start is a must while they should not panic if they suffer early on at the hands of Guptill and Watling. Hamilton is a small ground where the runs flow so the side bowling first should not be overwhelmed. Punters should have a similar outlook. New Zealand are [2.74] with England [1.56]. Unsurprisingly we rate the Kiwis as value, even if England should find conditions more to their liking than in the series defeat by India. With the tourists' old faces needing game time, it is clear that this is New Zealand's best chance, whether you agree they should be such big outisders or not.
The average in the last 10 is not as big as one would expect for such a small ground. Just the 212. Indeed, there have been some low totals, notably England's 158 in 2008. There is a toss bias which we should factor in. Eleven of the 17 completed matches have been won by the side chasing. No rain is forecast.
MCCullum averages 69 on this ground, Taylor 36 and Guptil 37. They are [4.30], [4.20] and [5.00] respectively. It was Williamson who was the star of the series win in South Africa, however, hitting a brilliant 145 to top the charts. He is [5.20].
Bell is England's form man. With 234 runs in India he surpassed Cook in the No 2 slot with 207. We expect the Warwickshire man to make hay again and given he is seven clicks bigger at [4.70] than Cook, he represent value.