England lock horns with New Zealand for the second and final time in this two-match Test series on Friday, having dismantled their hosts by 267 runs in the day/night Test in Mount Maunganui last week.
The game will be a regulation day Test this time, meaning play will actually get underway at 10pm UK time on Thursday.
We preview all the action below.
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New Zealand v England – Thursday 22:00 GMT
The Stokes/McCullum juggernaut is showing little sign of slowing up after England raced to a comprehensive victory over New Zealand in the first Test in Mount Maunganui. England arguably weren’t even at their best with the bat and can be accused of letting New Zealand back into the game on several occasions throughout the first three days, but this side seems to possess a wonderful blend of experience and technical ability to carve out match-winning moments on a regular basis.
The speed in which England both score and finish off games is quite remarkable; when waking up to check the score of the night’s play, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d been asleep for two days given how quickly the game had progressed. England’s batting epitomises this in particular, with the introduction of white-ball specialist Ben Duckett as an opener further elevating the boundary-hitting tendency of their top order.
The visitors will start at 6/5 favourites to complete a 2-0 whitewash and secure Ben Stokes’ 11th win in 12 games since he took over as skipper. Joe Root leads the top run scorer market for the first innings at 11/4, but given the former captain’s curious vein of form, we’re more enticed by Harry Brook’s price of 4/1 to lead the way for England. Meanwhile, keep an eye out on Ollie Robinson’s odds of 11/4 to take the most first innings wickets again for the visitors.
New Zealand were certainly underwhelming in the first Test. Apart from Devon Conway, you don’t feel confident in any of their top order really firing, including the out-of-form Kane Williamson. The famous Mitchell/Blundell partnership that stumped England on so many occasions last summer failed to be as robust this time round, although a fifty and a century apiece across both innings highlighted how important this New Zealand middle order is to putting a reasonable score on the board.
Fast bowler Neil Wagner, despite all his experience, was fiercely targeted in the second innings as England hooked and pulled efficiently to make the most of the small boundaries. His figures of 13-0-110-2 are scarcely believable for a Test match, with the Black Caps really feeling the absence of star seamer Trent Boult.
The hosts are 21/10 outsiders to level the series, with the draw priced at 5/2. Kane Williamson leads the individual batting markets at 11/4 to score the most first innings runs, which, despite his poor form, may be a more feasible achievement in the more familiar day conditions this time round. Devon Conway however seems the best bet at 7/2, and you can even back him and England’s Harry Brook to both score a fifty in the first innings at 11/2.
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