Fifth ODI – 10:30am local time on Saturday, June 20, 2015 at the Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
England – $2.00 at www.Sportsbet.com
New Zealand – $1.90 at Crownbet.com
SINCE when was England and New Zealand a recipe for some of the most scintillating one-day cricket in recent memory?
This series was supposed to confirm the Kiwis’ rise to the big leagues while the host side simply tried to avoid the kind of embarrassment they suffered at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
But the Brits haven’t been scrappy, or battling, or doggedly competitive. They’ve been downright good to watch.
Wednesday’s series-levelling win at Trent Bridge provided a perfect snapshot of the Poms’ newfound joie de vivre. Having been set 350 to win, they needed only 44 of their allotted 50 overs as Eoin Morgan and Joe Root each notched centuries en route to a remarkable seven-wicket victory.
It was England’s highest-ever successful run chase in One Day Internationals, and it puts them in a strong position to win their first home series in three years.
Results aside, it’s the fearless, daring brand of cricket on display that has English fans most excited. They have now scored 300+ in four consecutive games – something they had never done before this series – and each of their top seven batsmen is striking at better than 95 runs per 100 balls faced.
Although a few of the same names are there, this side as a whole is unrecognisable from the one which failed to even scare the knockout rounds of the World Cup a few months ago.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann had special praise for the captain, Morgan, who came out of CWC 2015 under enormous pressure after managing just 90 runs in five outings.
“I don’t believe I’ve just seen that. Even the staunchest England fans wouldn’t have given them much hope there,” Swann said on BBC’s Test Match Special after the game.
“Eoin Morgan has gone through hell in the last year with the bat, and bounced back incredibly well. Joe Root has been overshadowed by him, yet he’s scored an unbeaten century at more than a run a ball.
“England haven’t been ahead of the game in one-day cricket for a long time, but they’ve taken stock and aped New Zealand completely.”
Nevertheless, most online bookmakers have New Zealand ($1.90 at CrownBet) as the slight favourites to bounce back in Durham this weekend and clinch what has been a breathtaking ODI series.
It’s hard to bet against the World Cup finalists, whose burgeoning talent base and devil-may-care approach has seen them become every neutral’s second-favourite team over the past year or so.
There’s very little wrong in the batting department. Even though the likes of Brendon McCullum, Martin Guptill and Grant Elliott weren’t at their fluid best in Nottingham, only one player (Luke Ronchi) in the Black Caps’ top seven failed to pass 35 runs in what would usually be considered a very healthy total of 7/349.
But the Kiwis have definitely felt the absence of star left-arm quick Trent Boult, who was ruled out of the series with a back injury after pulling up sore from the win at Kennington Oval last week.
Having watched every one of his bowlers concede at least seven runs per over in match four, New Zealand head coach Mike Hesson admitted his attack would have to be much more focused if they wished to turn the tables on Saturday.
“You’ve got to take wickets or create pressure – or ultimately you do both,” Hesson told the press after Wednesday’s loss.
“We struggled to create a succession of dot balls. We struggled to create a succession of overs that didn’t go for boundaries.
“We were both full and short, it wasn’t just one. It’s quite a young bowling attack in many ways and it was a good lesson for us.”
England and NZ ODI squads
England: Eoin Morgan (C), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Craig Overton, Jamie Overton, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, David Willey, Mark Wood
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (C), Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Andrew Mathieson, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler, Kane Williamson
Result – England to win ($2.00 at Sportsbet)
Highest first 15 overs – England ($2.03 at www.Crownbet.com)
Highest opening partnership – England ($2.00 at Luxbet.com)
Even with the home side high on confidence, most online sportsbooks have the Kiwis as slender favourites in the key ODI match betting markets. While the neutrals will surely be rooting for the visitors, we reckon England is every chance to keep the good times rolling at Chester-le-Street.
Although the prices are pretty tight across the board, there is a little bit of value to be had in the first innings batting odds. Hales and Roy have at least matched McCullum and Guptill as an opening pair thus far, so anything over $2 for the England duo to outscore their Kiwi counterparts is well worth a punt.
ENG vs NZ best batsman odds
England – Eoin Morgan ($4.75 at www.Bet365.com)
With consecutive scores of 50, 88, 71 and 113 this series, the Irish-born skipper epitomises England’s remarkable turnaround since that disastrous 2015 World Cup. In this kind of touch, he’s one of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket.
New Zealand – Kane Williamson ($3.85 at William Hill)
At just 24 years of age, Williamson is already the cornerstone of this emerging New Zealand team. The Kiwi number three has posted two 90s and a century in the last three games, so you can’t look past him on pure form.
Value bets for top team bowler
England – Ben Stokes ($5.00 at www.WilliamHill.com)
Although still finding his feet in international cricket, Stokes is already being pegged as the man to pick up where Andrew Flintoff left off. Six wickets in the last three games makes him one of England’s most consistent contributors with the ball in hand.
New Zealand – Tim Southee ($3.75 at Sportsbet.com)
With Boult, Adam Milne and Corey Anderson all out injured, 26-year-old Southee is the old hand in a very green Black Caps attacks. His form has been scratchy in 2015, but figures of 3/44 in the third ODI at Southampton showed that he’s still a real threat against the top and the tail alike.
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