New Zealand vs England: Second Test Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Can New Zealand inflict another heavy defeat on the touring English when the sides meet at the Hagley Oval?

The hosts have not won consecutive Tests against England in New Zealand in almost 90 years, but seem entirely primed to break this lengthy stretch this week and the next.

The tourists' last visit to Christchurch for the longest format was in 2002, but that was not at the Hagley Oval, where the Kiwis have a superb Test record.
New Zealand vs England | 30 March - 3 April | Hagley Oval, Christchurch
To Win Match
New Zealand 15/10
Draw 33/10
England 12/10

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New Zealand
The Black Caps were simply superb in Auckland, where their bowlers delivered on cue. Mike Hesson was lavish in his praise of the seam attack, who indeed found swing, seam and bounce at will. Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner are the near perfect three-pronged combination in such conditions, which will be similar in Christchurch.

The batting isn't a worry either, despite the apparent collective shortfall of openers Jeet Ravel and Tom Latham at Eden Park. Their time will come still, while a middle-order laden with experience in Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will continue to afford Henry Nicholls an extended stay. Nicholls was outstanding in the series opener, shrugging off the advances of several pretenders to the number five berth.

If anywhere, they struggled - slightly - against the steely Mark Stoneman and combative Ben Stokes. Neither did enough to truly question the inevitable, but put up some fight to take the rain-affected fixture into a fifth day. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, in particular, could relish a tight challenge against Stokes this week.

New Zealand sport a 75-percent winning record at this venue, where they've beaten Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - and lost to Australia. This won't be their toughest task against a non-subcontinental team yet, but certainly one deserving of an intriguing series decider. The wet weather that hampered the first Test will likely interfere again, but not as substantially.

England's collapse to 58 all out was not the worst of last week (that awkward slice of ignominy went to Australia in Sunday's third session against South Africa at Newlands), but it spoke volumes of their batting inadequacies, regardless. With the nightmare of their first day-night Test in New Zealand out the way, now is the time to bounce back, quickly - but can they?

Doubtful, especially if they institute wholesale changes rather than tweak a position or two and perhaps make one personnel switch. The under-performing Moeen Ali is certainly in the firing line, as Liam Livingstone and Jack Leach enter the frame. The former seems the popular pick, given his all-round ability.

The jury is still out on whether or not Stokes will bowl. Picked as a specialist batsman in Auckland, he should have recovered well enough from injury to play a part with the ball in Christchurch. This, then, could see Craig Overton deemed surplus to requirement for an extra batsman. Either way, James Anderson and Stuart Broad need stronger support.

The visitors simply have to find a way to successfully negotiate the swinging ball, especially from the left hand of Boult approaching from over the wicket. If successful, targeting Colin de Grandhomme and Sodhi could be on the agenda. Obviously, Alastair Cook and Joe Root - for all their experience and guile -  really need to put their hands up in these trying circumstances.

Verdict: New Zealand 15/10
New Zealand have not won a Test series against England at home since 1984, with Williamson and company set to achieve what Geoff Howarth's team managed some 30-plus years ago.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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