New Zealand vs England: Fourth ODI Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Can the English wrap up their five match series against New Zealand with a game to spare when the sides meet in Dunedin? 

Captain Kane Wiliamson's commanding century in the third ODI was not enough to prevent the Black Caps from sliding to a deficit - and now the English are just one win away from achieving their first bilateral series victory in New Zealand since 2013.

England will be delighted with their lead in Wellington and surrounds - something Pakistan and the West Indies were unable to achieve last year - but would still like to wrap up series triumph with a game to spare.

New Zealand v England | Wednesday, 7 March | University Oval, Dunedin | 0:00

To Win Match
New Zealand 5/4
Tie 35/1 
England 67/100

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New Zealand
Ross Taylor will likely return after injury ruled him out of the third ODI - and the pressure to carry and under-performing middle order will immediately be placed on the veteran right-hander. Mark Chapman, Tom Latham and company just aren't coming to the party consistently enough, with too much - too often - left for Mitchell Santner to do down the order.

The selection yo-yo between Lockie Ferguson and Ish Sodhi is bound to continue. The pace ace and leg-spinner have been swapped through the series - and it's probably Ferguson's turn this time. His recall would afford new-ball bowlers Tim Southee and Trent Boult the desired support, as Colin de Grandhomme is hardly proving effective in the role of third seamer.

The Kiwis have an unblemished ODI record at Wednesday's venue, where they've played and won six. Three of their four most recent victories here came after bowling first, so Williamson's decision will almost certainly be to do so again if he is victorious at the toss. A 20 percent chance of rain in the area, too, may influence his choice to set rather than chase a total.

The advances of seamer Chris Woakes and spinner Moeen Ali will be among the home side's chief concerns. Ali has made a habit of striking regularly through the so-called middle overs, while Woakes' bowling at the death has been exemplary. Shuffling across their stumps, to successfully combat Woakes' clever wide yorkers, will surely be on New Zealand's practice agenda in the lead-up to the fourth ODI.

The visitors will know that their opposition has been somewhat hampered by injury - and Wednesday will be the first time in a while New Zealand could sport the services of a fully fit Taylor and Williamson. This, coupled with an aggressive Colin Munro and authoritative innings from Martin Guptill, would present England with an entirely more taxing challenge.

Skipper Eoin Morgan has been quick to hail his side's ability to improve on their weaknesses of late - and the progress of Tom Curran has come in for some particularly big praise. Curran's ability to hold his nerve - and then thrive - in pressure-cooker situations has been outstanding. That slower ball of his is proving especially impressive.

Ali, meanwhile, has effectively rekindled the match-winning ability he has all but lost in Test match cricket. His role with the ball is vital to England's limited-overs aspirations, but he hasn't given up hope on contributing with the bat, which will be in high demand if Jason Roy, Alex Hales and others don't fire up front.

Ben Stokes will insist on another big performance of himself. Ostensibly still reintegrating himself back into the fold after a lengthy absence due to his off-field shortfalls, Stokes has the upcoming two Tests against the same opposition to prepare for. A couple of big showings with the bat and/or ball will go along way in settling him back in.

Verdict: New Zealand 5/4
Taylor's return, with Williamson by his side, should make the world of difference to New Zealand's recent inadequacies with the willow. This, aligned with another sound collective effort by the bowlers, will set up a cracking decider in Christchurch on Saturday.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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