Venue: Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Date: Thursday, November 21 – Monday, November 25, 2019
This has been an even series from the outset with the hosts and the tourists seeming to be about as evenly matched as any two cricketing nations on the planet over this last year. After a number of warm-up games against they type of “XI” and “A” sides that you always see on a tour like this, it was the T20I series where this battle really took shape.
The two sides split the first four games, meaning that the fifth T20I contest at Eden Park No. 1 would decide the series winner. In a match that was abridged to 11 overs per side due to rain, New Zealand and England found themselves tied as both went for 146 runs off of their allotted overs. This meant that – for the second time this year between the two sides after the World Cup final – a Super Over was needed. England won yet again in the bonus frame (New Zealand must REALLY hate the Super Over) and the tourists thus have the momentum headed into the two Test match tour finale.
The good news for England is that looks like some of their players are rounding into form for this series. While they were only able to draw against New Zealand A in their final warm-up game it was noteworthy that Jos Butler was able to put up 110 as part of a 405 run first innings total for England. It looked like the work of Jofra Archer and Sam Curran – three wickets each in the host’s second innings – was going to be enough to force a win, but England couldn’t get the breakthrough they needed before time was called.
England will require a big performance from captain Joe Root who has failed to hit a Test match hundred since back in February.
New Zealand will be led out to battle by the imperious Kane Williamson, a player who always seems to get the best out of his teammates as they follow his talismanic presence. The Black Caps will need another big performance at the crease from Willamson against what will be a feisty England bowling attack. If the New Zealand attack can work through the spells of the prolific Archer then they should be able to attack an England bowling lineup that has been up and down during this tour.
The work with the ball for New Zealand will be led by Trent Boult and Tim Southee. The pair have combined for 44 wickets in England’s last five Tests in New Zealand, with Boult being rested during the T20I series to keep his arm as lively as ever for the pace attack over the five-day version of the game.
This one is a hard Test match to predict and it is no wonder that both teams have been given the same odds to win at BetXChange. We like Joe Denly (5.00) to be the top scorer in England’s first innings, for Archer to be the man to do the most damage to New Zealand in the first innings (2.50) and for New Zealand to defend home field and take the win at 1.40.