New Zealand and England are set to play five ODIs in the former’s backyard following a tri-series which featured both these teams along with Australia. England have some big names back for them, including Ben Stokes, who was cleared to appear for this series. Root and Woakes return to the squad as well, along with Craig Overton, who will be making his debut if he features.
New Zealand’s squad is more or less the same as the one which played the T20s. Latham, Ferguson, and Henry are back. However, they have some injury concerns as well. They were excellent with the bat in the tri-series, but the bowling let them down. Can they rectify their errors and overcome England, or will the visitors take the lead?
Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jason Roy, Craig Overton
Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ish Sodhi
Where the teams stand
England’s returning players are a huge boon to the side. All eyes will undoubtedly be on Stokes after this controversial ban for cricket. His all-round abilities have solidified his status as one of the best players in limited overs cricket, and his team needs him after their showing in the T20s. Root will be integral at the number three spot as well, especially given how vulnerable the opening batsmen can be. Still, Hales and Roy can be lethal when they get going, but it simply hasn't happened in a while now. Ali, Morgan, and Bairstow/Buttler will likely form the rest of the batting order. Morgan has had his injury concerns in the recent past, but the ODI format suits his game, and as captain he needs to be leading from the front.
Having two all-rounders in the form of Ali and Stokes gives England immense flexibility in their bowling attack. With four spots remaining, and a spinner already present, Adil Rashid is likely to miss out. Woakes, Overton, Willey, and Curran/Wood will likely form the bowling attack. The former three can all bat, ensuring that England bat all the way down to number ten. Willey and Curran were expensive during the tri-series, but the change in format should give them more time to adapt and improve their game. Overton was brilliant in the Ashes, and easily their best bower with the red ball. Woakes has also been effective in his recent matches, getting some runs under his belt as well. Overall, this side is looking very strong.
The Kiwis will be going in with a batting lineup very similar to the one which featured in the T20s. Guptill and Munro will form the explosive opening pair, with Williamson at three. Either Latham or Taylor will come in at four, with Nicholls and de Grandhomme making up the lower middle order. The Kiwis relied heavily on their openers for runs during the tri-series, but with additional cover in the middle order, they needn't bear the entire burden of scoring. The middle order is relatively stable, and de Grandhomme along with Nicholls will have the role of pinch-hitters down the order. This batting lineup is heavily reliant on the top four-five, which is a severe disadvantage considering how deep England’s batting lineup runs. The openers have been enough in 20 overs, but 50 is going to be hard to sustain if they play the same way.
New Zealand’s bowlers were terrible in the T20 series. The batsmen consistently got the team off to great starts, but the bowlers let them down with equal aplomb. Trent Boult will still be the spearhead for the attack. Santner and Astle are doubts for the game. Both of them have some injury concerns. Ish Sodhi will likely be the one to play as the slow bowler. Southee and Ferguson are almost certain to form the remaining attack, forming a decent force, but it is uncertain whether they will be enough to stop the English.
England win. Their squad is far too strong for the Kiwis, even while playing away.