• New Zealand v England, 3rd ODI, Auckland

England seek back-to-back wins

The Preview by Alan Gardner
February 22, 2013 « Ferguson wants to keep 'match-winner' Nani | Chartbeat test »
Match facts
February 23, 2013
Start time 2pm (0100 GMT)

Big Picture
Whatever lessons the five limited-overs matches between New Zealand and England have taught us so far, the most glaring seems to concern that most nebulous of concepts, momentum. So far, whichever team the Big Mo has lined up behind, their almost instantaneous response has been to stumble to defeat. Four of the matches have resulted in hefty thrashings - though it seems fair to note that England have handed out three of them - and New Zealand will have to maintain the trend for bouncebackability if they are to avoid defeat in two formats in the run-up to what will likely be an exacting Test series.

As with the T20s, the one-day series will go down to the final match. A rusty England lost control during the last ten overs of both innings in Hamilton but had hit their stride by the time the teams got to Napier. They still haven't worked out how best to bowl to Brendon McCullum, though, and the return to form of Ross Taylor is important for New Zealand cricket as a whole. Their main problem in the ODIs has been taking wickets early in the innings: England's Test-hardened top three blunting the effect of two white balls, and Tim Southee might have to be rushed back to new-ball duty a little quicker than anticipated in Auckland.

If they do manage to ruffle England's top three, it will only hasten Joe Root's return to the middle - something Taylor has admitted wouldn't be ideal either. Were Root the hero of a Jane Austen novel, right now he would be struggling to move for society belles petitioning for a turn on the dance floor. Root's composed Test debut last year brought many admiring glances but his dashing one-day form has really set hearts aflutter. The one person left chewing his lip is Ashley Giles, who has seen his list of Champions Trophy selection issues grow by one; and not only has Root's form raised the question of what happens when the rested Kevin Pietersen returns to the squad, it has had the knock-on effect of limiting time in the middle for Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, the two players most in need of chances to impress. Although, if it means England securing a first ODI series win over New Zealand since 1994, Giles probably won't complain.

Form guide
New Zealand LWLWW (Completed matches, most recent first)
England WLWLL

In the spotlight
BJ Watling was one of the few New Zealand batsmen to come out of the Test series in South Africa with any credit but he has since scored 86 runs in five ODI innings and is struggling for form after being promoted to opener in place of the discarded Rob Nicol. Facing a bowler as good as James Anderson (or Dale Steyn) is among the harder tasks for any opener but Watling is now also the senior man, after the injury to Martin Guptill. The stilted start he and Hamish Rutherford made in Napier undermined New Zealand's chances, and cosying up to the eight-ball in the hope that McCullum will bail the side out is not a strategy for the long term.

Of the England players that came into the ODI side after a decent layoff, only Graeme Swann has failed to slip back into a groove. The experience of bowling in a Test in India is someway removed from one-day cricket in New Zealand but, after James Tredwell's recent stalwart display as understudy, most would have expected Swann to have returned with his usual ebullience and restate his seniority. That has not quite happened and, although his displays have not been poor, he only has the wicket of the No. 8 Nathan McCullum to his name so far. One more will take him to 100 in ODIs and it is rare that Swann stays flat for long.

Team news
Hamish Rutherford will double his tally of ODI caps after Guptill was sent for surgery on a thumb problem and New Zealand could turn to Colin Munro to strengthen the batting further down the order. Trent Boult would be the most likely to make way, with Munro and Kane Williamson capable of filling in with the ball.

New Zealand (probable) 1 BJ Watling, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Grant Elliott, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 7 Colin Munro, 8 James Franklin, 9 Nathan McCullum, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Kyle Mills

With the series on the line, England are unlikely to make any unforced changes. The rise of Root has further limited Jonny Bairstow's chances and while Giles might be tempted to have a look at James Harris, this is probably not the occasion to bring in a debutant.

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn

Pitch and conditions
Eden Park is notable for its short straight boundaries and England got their geometry right during the T20 there earlier in the month, hitting 15 sixes in a record total. The drop-in pitch and a warm, cloudless day could lead to another high-scoring game.

Stats and trivia

  • Brendon McCullum has overtaken Martin Crowe and Craig McMillan during this series to sit fourth on New Zealand's ODI run-scorers' list with 4796. He needs 86 to go past Chris Cairns, but in 19 one-day innings at Eden Park, he averages 21.18 with one fifty.
  • Six years ago, New Zealand scored 340 to win batting second against Australia - at the time the second-highest chase in one-dayers. They knocked it down to third two days later in Hamilton.
  • England have won four of their last five ODIs at the ground, stretching back to 1992.
  • Joe Root has scored at least 30 in each of his first six ODI knocks - the first man ever to do so.

Quotes
"There's a lot of emotions going through your mind and body. With what's gone on it was nice to know I can still bat."
Ross Taylor reflects on his first significant knock since returning to the side

"That's the idea really. You rest, so that you're fresh when you come back in and it's important you perform when you do that."
Jonathan Trott on England's rotation policy

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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