New Zealand are in the last chance saloon, as England’s thrilling win in the third ODI moved the tourists to the brink of victory in the five-game series.
How New Zealand respond to defeat in the third ODI in Wellington at the weekend will be interesting, as they were on the receiving end of a draining defeat from a mental perspective.
A rollercoaster ride does not do it justice, and that’s only the final over, as Kane Williamson dragged his side up from the depths to all-but scale the mountain, only to fall short. Needing 15 off the last over, Williamson hit Chris Woakes’ third ball for a massive six and with two balls remaining he needed five to win. The fifth ball was a juicy full toss in the slot, but Williamson could only pick out Joe Root at mid off and one ball later England were celebrating – with the New Zealand captain cutting a disconsolate figure despite his brilliant 112 not out.
The two sides head to Dunedin on Wednesday and the market makers have England as favourites, with 188BET pricing Eoin Morgan’s men up at 1.63 – with New Zealand available to back at 2.24.
England have so many star names at their disposal that the case for them being favourites is an easy one to make. Their opening partnership of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow offers excellent balance and attacking threat, while they bat a long way down with the likes of Morgan, Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler high-calibre strokemakers.
With the ball, Woakes has blossomed into one of the finest death bowlers in world cricket, while Tom Curran is making rapid strides and the twin spin threat of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid is a potent one.
For all England’s star potential, New Zealand have quality in their ranks and they will be boosted by the return from injury of Ross Taylor. He is a steadying presence in the middle order, and bang in form after his ton in the first game, while Williamson is among the best batsmen in any form of the game.
On a difficult deck in Wellington, his century was as good as has been seen for some time. He’s shown before that he is mentally tough and he would relish the chance at a second shot at getting his side over the line.
New Zealand’s star seamer Trent Boult has a love affair with the ground, as he has 12 wickets to his name from four appearances – and if his team-mates can provide support they will make life hard for England.
New Zealand know that defeat will see the series go to England with one game remaining, so attack will be the only policy and on a University Oval ground in Dunedin that they have never lost an ODI at, the hosts could just edge it.