Ed Hawkins says neither team can be wholly trusted on Sunday in Hamilton but a good wicket should mean more woe for bowlers...
"This feels like a ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t game’ in the regard that one could just easily as hammer the other"
New Zealand v England
Sunday 18 February 06.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
At the halfway point against Australia in Auckland on Friday, New Zealand felt they had the game won, and therefore booked their final spot in the Trans-Tasman Series.
Martin Guptill had blitzed a brilliant 49-ball century and Colin Munro had found form. Together they fired the Kiwis to an extraordinary 243.
But a combination of complacency, incompetence and gutlessness saw them beaten with ease. Australia scaled the mountain with an incredible seven balls to spare. This was humiliation for the Kiwis.
And it is difficult to think of where they go from here. Twice now in this series they have produced performances which give rise to the feeling they cannot be trusted - their pathetic 118 in Sydney in the tournament opener the first.
Mitchell Santner, the world No 1, was ruled out with injury and it seems unlikely he will be fit to return to help the Kiwi's beleaguered bowlers. In his place, the hapless Ben Wheeler conceded record losses.
Ben Stokes is available but he won't play in a game that England have to win. Go figure. This means that England are shorn of first-choice players and, frankly, are fielding a virtual reserve team.
As well as Stokes there is no Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Liam Plunkett, who has been ruled out of the ODI leg as well through injury. Eoin Morgan, whose calm leadership should not be discounted, remains a doubt with an injury. Tom Curran or Liam Dawson could play in his absence.
Still, the problem has been batting. Without their experienced players England's strength has looked like a weakness. They posted just 137 against Australia in Melbourne and couldn't chase 197 against the Kiwis in Wellington, a total which now looks more than gettable.
We could be set for another high-scoring match. Seddon Park is one of the smallest international grounds in the world and it was the scene for the fastest century in T20 history - Richard Levi's 45-ball ton in 2012. Only two sides have failed to pass 170 batting first in the seven matches played, and one of those was the hopeless Bangladesh outfit in 2010 when they were rolled for 78. Still, in January Pakistan made 168. They were well beaten, though, with New Zealand winning by ten wickets. It's a good batting wicket.
New Zealand are [2.08] and England [1.90]. It is understandable that the market is struggling to split the pair considering both have been hopeless.
This feels like a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't game' in the regard that one could just easily as hammer the other. Ordinarily we side with the Kiwis at odds against but how can we after what happened in Auckland?
Similarly England are pretenders and we are beginning to doubt their stomach for the fight after a long tour.
The toss could come to our aid. The wicket is good for batting and the bowling weak so the chaser should go well. New Zealand are, of course, now unbackable defending. There is a toss bias under lights. Four from six have been won by the chaser.
We've said before that New Zealand's power lies in the top three. Guptill, Colin Munro and, when he plays there, Kane Williamson. It doesn't seem bright looking outside the trio at the moment. Guptill and Munro are both [3.4] and Williamson [3.8]. Guptill hit 87 from 58 to down Pakistan at the venue last month with Williamson notching 72 from 48. Guptill also hit 47 from 31 against England there in 2013.
Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Morgan are all survivors from that match. But only Buttler will remember it. He struck 54 from 30 balls in a defeat. He doesn't have much to beat here and the [6.0] looks like a decent bet.
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