New Zealand v England
Wednesday 28 February 01.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
New Zealand's timely reminder
Following a bit of stinker in the Trans-Tasman T20 Series, New Zealand reminded everyone that they are a darn tough nut to crack in ODI, particularly at home where the record is terrific.
It has to be said that they got the better of the conditions , in game one at Hamilton with the toss bias going their way but restricting a dangerous England batting line-up to 284 was no mean feat. Arguably they shouldn't have scored quite as many with England struggling at 181 for five.
The spin duo, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi, were influential. The took two wickets apiece to stem the flow and they are expected to be vital in the series as New Zealand look to expose England's issue with tweak.
However, the major success story was how New Zealand recovered from 27 for three thanks to a brilliant century from Ross Taylor. Tom Latham made 79. It is rare indeed that New Zealand get up in a chase with both Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson having recorded failures.
Of course it will be Santner's 45 from 27 which stole the headlines but Taylor's anchor role should not be underestimated.
England got bowling options wrong
England might be scratching their heads as to how they didn't win in Hamilton. When Taylor was out stumped off Adil Rashid the scoreboard showed 244 for seven with four overs and one ball remaining. Job done, surely?
It was Rashid who came in for plenty of stick for his disastrous 48th over when Santner pumped him for two sixes and a total of 16 to turn the game. Should he have been bowling, though?
Eoin Morgan, when trying to solve the puzzle, may conclude that Chris Woakes and David Willey, his two most economical bowlers, were underused. Willey still had four left and Woakes bowled 8.2.
Still, England supporters would have been cheered to see Joe Root and Ben Stokes back. Stokes made a surprise return despite Trevor Bayliss, the coach, saying he was unlikely to play. Root made 71 and Stokes sparked England's fightback with the ball. Moeen Ali had a useful cameo with the bat, too.
Decent batting wicket
There have been only four ODI played at the Bay Oval, all since 2014. The first-innings scores (1-2 denote match won by team batting 1st or 2nd) read: 294-1/282-1/230-2/210-2. New Zealand beat Sri Lanka there last time out with the score of 294. The weather forecast is good.It would be nor surprise if 300 was busted on first-innings runs.
Tourists could hit back
New Zealand are 2.265/4 and England 1.784/5 for game two. We quite like the price about England because we are not as down about their performance as some.
They took some heavy criticism which included an inability to deal with the pressure of defending. We don't think that's true.
The rational reason for England's loss is that they had to bowl second under lights on a ground where it is notoriously hard to do so. It's now 14 wins from 19 for the chaser. England's fielders were slipping and sliding around because of the moisture.
So it was perhaps no surprise that Rashid got taken to the cleaners by Santner if the ball was wet. If it wasn't, a human is allowed to make an error now and again. Or another human is allowed to play out of his skin.
As much as we respect the Kiwis, they still might need a leveller - like the pitch, toss or weather - to help bridge the gap. If there was one we'd be backing them. England have not become a bad team overnight.
Guptill's ground form
Guptill smashed a century in that match against Sri Lanka. He made 102 from 109 balls and he is 3.1511/5 for top New Zealand runscorer. Williamson and Taylor also notched half-centuries. They are 2.915/8 and 5.69/2 respectively. Guptill also has 187 runs in four T20 internationals at the ground. Colin Munro should feel at home, too. In the same format he has plundered 307 runs in five. He is 4.216/5.
Buttler rarely bad value
Root, who would have been well supported for top England bat honours, was pipped by Jos Buttler who scored 79. Buttler, as we often say, is underrated on this market and a case can almost always be made that he is value. Root is 3.711/4 and Buttler 6.05/1.