Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Wellington as the Trans-Tasman series heads to New Zealand early on Tuesday...
"England's problems against spin just won't go away. It was big reason for their demise in both games so far."
New Zealand v England
TV: live on Sky Sports
The Kiwis came into the Trans-Tasman Series as the No. 2-rated side in the world. In their one outing against Australia they looked anything but.
They were hopeless against the pace of Billy Stanlake and, following a 2-1 reverse to No1 team Pakistan at home, the inquest has begun. There have been calls for captain Kane Williamson and coach Mike Hesson to be sacked, which seems extreme. New Zealand are consistently punching above their weight.
The problem is that Williamson's lack of runs at No 3 is building pressure on openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro. If Williamson was to split the two and return as opener himself, where his record is good, it could take a lot of heat out of the situation.
Middle-order runs have been hard to come by for the Kiwis since, well, forever. They have always been one class player short of a classy side. Here they have added Mark Chapman, a former Hong Kong player, to the squad in another 'search for a star'.
England have failed to convert their 50-over form into 20 overs and, to be frank, they have produced two horrible performances against an Australia side who have hardly broken sweat to book their place in the final.
In Hobart, they started well and were set for a challenging plus-180 total. Then they lost their way. In Melbourne they didn't start well and only managed 137 thanks to dashing late, late cameos from Sam Billings and David Willey. A becalmed Jos Buttler top scored.
It would seem the player drain is taking too-heavy a toll. Eoin Morgan, the leader, is the latest to miss out with an injury. He joins Liam Plunkett struggling on the sidelines with his hamstring. With Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes all absent, the gaps are too big.
There have been only eight T20 played at Wellington. The highest total recorded was Pakistan's 196 two years ago but that's an outlier. Previously the highest score was 162. The average is 147. The toss is absolutely key here under lights. But it's not the way you'd expect. Six of the eight have been won by the chaser, suggesting early movement is key.
New Zealand are rated outsiders at [2.1] with England [1.89]. We are happy to take on the favourites in a straight game but the toss bias provides us with a comfort blanket considering concerns about the hosts' batting.
If the toss goes their way, the Kiwis really should put on a squeeze. In Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi they have the No 1 and No 3 ranked bowlers in the world. Importantly they are spinners. And England's problems against spin just won't go away.
It was big reason for their demise in both games so far, harking back to their failure to beat West Indies last summer when the slow bowlers came on and disrupted their rhythm.
Munro and Guptill get 3/1 quotes with Betfair Sportsbook here but only one has a decent ground record. Guptill is the top runscorer with 222 in seven. Munro has 49 in five. Williamson has 57 in two and unless he returns to the opener slot the 7/2 cannot be considered value. Ross Taylor is 11/2.
With Jason Roy and Alex Hales struggling for fluency - 3/1 and 16/5 respectively - and Morgan out, there is not a huge amount to beat. We like Buttler but, having grabbed 6/1 in game one, we're loathe to start taking 11/2. So Billings at 12/1 or Willey at 19/1 could represent fun gambles.
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
New Zealand batting 2nd [2.1] (2pts)