England has been a very dominant white-ball side but have struggled for consistency in the longest format of the game. Same was the case in their previous series against India. After a magnificent start to the tour, they fell apart like a pack of cards in the next three games. They have a decent record at home and will be looking to get some momentum before crossing swords with India in their next assignment.
Despite the Indian Premier League getting postponed a month earlier, England decided to rest all their eight players who were part of the T20 extravaganza, a move which is tough to explain. It is understandable for a couple of players – Jofra Archer and Ben Stokes, who are struggling with injuries, but to rest other six players didn’t make sense. Maybe, they are looking at this series to groom their youngsters. Whatever the reason may be, there is a match to be won and England will have to sweat hard to get past New Zealand.
They’ll rest their hopes on Joe Root and hope that the likes of Rory Burns, Ollie Pope, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley can support their skipper. Having said that, with no Stokes and Sam Curran, they’ll miss a quality all-rounder. The bowling shouldn’t be an issue with the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood available at their disposal.
New Zealand doesn’t have a record to boast about against England. However, this is their opportunity to even out the difference. A series win over England will be a massive boost ahead of the World Test Championship final against India. The Kiwis’ fortunes will depend on their two most experienced players, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor, both are as good as anyone in any conditions. Williamson especially is in red hot form in red-ball cricket and has scores of 251, 129 and 238 across his last three Tests.
Devon Conway has also made a promising start to his international career and will most likely find a place in the XI. With Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, New Zealand have a packed batting order. The batting is backed by a top-class bowling unit. While New Zealand will miss the services of Trent Boult, the likes of Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson are capable enough to rattle any batting order. The visitors though lack a quality spinner but given the conditions, they can do without him.
The match will be played on the iconic Lords stadium. The ball should move around on Day 1 with the wicket getting easier to bat as the match progresses. Day 2 and 3 should offer the best batting conditions before the pitch start deteriorating from Day 4.
Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c) , Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey (wk), Craig Overton, Stuart Broad, Ollie Robinson, Jimmy Anderson
Tom Latham, Tom Blundell, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Daryl Mitchell/Devon Conway, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Matt Henry
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