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Advantage England in series decider

Host has more form men than New Zealand, heavily dependent on Williamson and Taylor

Advantage England in series decider - Cricket News
England are high on confidence going into series decider.
Back at the 2015 World Cup earlier this year, New Zealand played extremely aggressive, attractive and entertaining cricket to go all the way to the final, while England crashed out in the first round itself.
If people expected that gulf between the two sides to show up in the ongoing five-match One-Day International series, England was out to prove them wrong. England has been a changed lot this series, a free-scoring, competitive unit, matching New Zealand hit for hit and, at times, looking the better of the two units – the 2-2 scoreline going into the final game of the series, on Saturday (June 20) at Chester-le-Street, probably flattering the visitor a bit.
While Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor have been the form men with the bat for New Zealand, England has found in Eoin Morgan a rejuvenated captain and Joe Root exactly the run-scoring machine local fans expect him to be. What’s probably made England look better is that Alex Hales and Jos Buttler have been among the runs too, while three of New Zealand’s top six, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliott and, crucially, Brendon McCullum have been off the boil.

However, England could be without the services of Buttler for the winner-takes-all clash after he split the skin at the base of his left thumb during practice on the eve of the match. Buttler will be assessed in the morning, but Jonathan Bairstow, the Yorkshire wicketkeeper-batsman, has been drafted into the squad as cover.
An equally significant problem for New Zealand has been the absence of Trent Boult. Boult picked up six wickets at an economy rate of 5.40 in the first two matches before dropping out with a back injury. No New Zealand bowler has matched up in terms of wickets in the games played so far, while Ben Stokes, Steven Finn, Adil Rashid and David Willey have all been among the wickets for England. Finn’s economy rate of 5.67 stands out in what has been a pretty miserable series for bowlers on the whole.
All of that explains why England, when it has won, has won big – the first game by 210 runs when it rode on quick centuries from Root and Buttler to total 408 for 9 before bowling New Zealand out for 198, and the fourth game by a whopping seven wickets when chasing 350, Root again and Morgan scoring centuries.
Despite that, New Zealand has stayed the course, taking the second and third games by small margins – one a nervy 13-run win with a little help from Messrs Duckworth, Lewis and Stern, and the other a tricky chase it pulled off by three wickets. And it has managed to do it because of the depth in its ranks.
Going into the final game of the series, England must believe it is the favourite. It has more men in form, its new approach exciting the fans and, seemingly, the players themselves, who seem determined to prove the World Cup misadventure a one-off. But, at the same time, the visitor should believe that some of its underperformers, McCullum chief among them, are just one game away from a match-swinging effort. And if McCullum and the others do what they can do and strut their stuff as only they can, pre-match calculations could well go flying out the window.

Teams (from)

England: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Jos Buttler (wk), Ben Stokes, Steven Finn, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Mark Wood, James Taylor, Craig Overton, Sam Billings, Jamie Overton, Jonathan Bairstow (wk).

New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (capt), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Michael Santner, Luke Ronchi (wk), Matt Henry, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Tim Southee, Ben Wheeler, Andrew Mathieson, Tom Latham.

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