The first Test of England – New Zealand series ended in a tame draw after rain played spoilsport on day 3 of the Test match. England was lucky to escape defeat after playing some pretty average cricket. The faults in their batting lineup are pretty evident without the likes of Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Moeen Ali. Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley fetched decent scores at Lords but looked scratchy throughout their innings.
Zak Crawley will be under tremendous pressure to perform and same is the case with Daniel Lawrence. One would feel if England have to compete with New Zealand, Joe Root has to play a substantial inning. Ollie Robinson has been suspended by the ECB for his old offensive tweets and in all likelihood will be replaced by Craig Overton. We could also see Olly Stone making a cut into the playing XI considering that Mark Wood doesn’t prefer to play too many Tests in a row. James Anderson and Stuart Broad looked out of touch in the first Test but can be expected to come back stronger at Edgbaston.
New Zealand have a poor record away from home and have managed to win just two Tests in the last fifteen years in England, India and Australia. However, under Kane Williamson, they’ve been a very strong competitor and wouldn’t deny this is probably their best opportunity to seal a series win in England. Devon Conway carried on his juggernaut in international cricket and stroked a magnificent double hundred on his Test debut.
Tom Latham, Henry Nicolls, BJ Watling may not attract a lot of limelight but are very capable batsmen. The likes of Grandhomme, Santner, Jamieson, and Southee add a lot of depth to the team. Some reports have suggested that New Zealand may rest Kane Williamson for the second Test, given his elbow niggle. If that’s the case, Tom Latham will don the skipper’s hat. Also, spinner Ajaz Patel and all-rounder, Daryl Mitchell are likely to find a place in the playing XI.
Trent Boult too will be available for selection but New Zealand may not want to risk him ahead of a marquee clash with India for the World Test Championship title. On the flip side, they may want to give him a game to get some match practice ahead of the final. Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and even Colin de Grandhomme looked in great rhythm in the first Test. If they can hold on to their form, New Zealand will be in a great position to pocket an elite series win in England. And what a boost it will be ahead of the World title clash.
Reports have suggested that England are preparing flatter surfaces this summer to ensure matches last all five days. The surface at Edgbaston thus should be a decent wicket to bat but it should offer some help to the pacers, especially on Day 1. Spinners may come into play later in the match.
Dom Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c) , Ollie Pope, Dan Lawrence, James Bracey (wk), Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson
Tom Latham, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson/Will Young, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme/Daryl Mitchell, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult/Mitchell Santner/Ajaz Patel
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