The series stands 2-1 as England have taken the lead over the home side after going 1-0 down after the first match. New Zealand have been facing some injury issues in the last two matches, but they will be back to full strength for an important fourth game.
England have been inconsistent in the three games played so far. They lost the first, comfortably won the second, and barely won the third one. Their spinners saved them in the last match, but they need to start putting in convincing performances before New Zealand do. Can they clinch the series, or will the home side keep it alive?
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
Morgan’s return to form has been a huge boon for his side. The skipper carried his team to victory in the second game, and was the highest scorer in the last one(48). The English opening pair have not been very successful on this tour, leaving the middle order to score the runs. Stokes has also settled into his game quickly since resuming his international duties, performing well in both of the last two ODIs. Jos Buttler has been efficient able to contribute as well. However, the rest of the batting lineup, especially the likes of Joe Root, need to take more responsibility in terms of run-scoring. It might not be a bad idea to experiment with the opening slot. England cannot keep affording bad starts, especially when they bat first. With Hales on the bench, Morgan has reinforcements lined up, and it may be time to use him.
Chris Woakes has consistently been superb for England throughout all the games. He has taken two wickets in each match with an economy of below six. Wood and Curran have both been ordinary, though the former has only played one game while the latter has played all three. The spinners have been fantastic in the last two matches, keeping their economy below 4 and taking crucial wickets when required. Willey missed the last match, and Overton has been warming the bench since the start of the tour. It will be interesting to see if Morgan favors either/both for an important clash that could mean a series victory abroad. They need to play their best eleven, and these changes will ensure they do.
New Zealand have had to rely on Mitchell Santner a little too heavily for their liking. Their middle order collapsed in both of the last two matches, more significantly in the third one. Four middle order batsmen scored only 11 runs on aggregate, which is criminally low for a side of their stature. Ross Taylor returning should heavily boost their endeavor in stabilizing the middle order. Munro got some runs under his belt in the last game as well. But Nicholls and Chapman have essentially blocked two slots in the side without providing any returns. This is a tricky situation for the Kiwis, and if they bat first, they need their batting to fire collectively to stay alive in the series.
Like Woakes, Boult has been getting his side two wickets in every game along with a healthy economy. The Kiwis have routinely rotated at least one of their premier bowlers over the course of the series, and nothing seems to be working in their favor. The only game they won saw Sodhi and Santner bowling in tandem, completing their quotas and picking up four wickets between them. This has not happened in either of the other two games, and it seems to be a winning strategy. They must stick to Sodhi over Ferguson and divide the overs between Munro and Santner better to give the latter more of the share. He was under-used in the last match, bowling two overs whereas Munro bowled eight. The names should ideally be switched, but Williamson can still rectify this. The Kiwis need to win the toss and ensure that they bowl first, which will give them the best chance of winning. Their bowling is unreliable, and a shaky middle order cannot be trusted with setting big scores.
England win. Too many things have to go New Zealand’s way to win. It could still easily happen, but an England victory is much more likely.