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May 7, 2008
Match factsThursday, May 8 2008
The Big PictureThis is the final chance for New Zealand to fine-tune their preparations ahead of the first Test and also a last opportunity for England's fringe players to give the selectors a headache ahead of the squad announcement on Sunday. It should prove a tough assignment for the visitors with a strong Lions team including eight players with international experience. New Zealand managed a win against Essex, but they were rescued by their bowlers after two batting displays - James Marshall apart - that didn't bode well ahead of Lord's. Kyle Mills, at No. 8 in the second innings, was the only other player to pass fifty and they are also without Daniel Vettori, who has a finger injury. The Lions are led by Robert Key, who already has an unbeaten 178 against New Zealand in the tour, while Matthew Hoggard is hoping to push for a Test recall with more wickets after a promising start to the season for Yorkshire.
Team newsEngland Lions: The decision could come down to whether both spinners, Adil Rashid and Graeme Swann, make the final XI. If the spell of warmer weather pushes the selectors that way then one of the four frontline quicks will probably miss out.
Squad: Robert Key (Kent, capt), Ravinder Bopara (Essex), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Steven Kirby (Gloucestershire), Matt Prior (Sussex, wk), Graham Onions (Durham), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Owais Shah (Middlesex), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Chris Tremlett (Hampshire), Luke Wright (Sussex)
Player to watch: Ravi Bopara has been one of the form batsmen early season and added 66 to his impressive tally against New Zealand and Chelmsford last week. He said he was frustrated to miss out on three figures, so this is another chance for him to put pressure on England's current batting line-up.
New Zealanders: The visitors have already named their XI, which shows how they will probably line-up at Lord's except for Vettori, who misses this match after splitting his finger at Chelmsford and the rested Mills. Vettori is hopeful of being fit for the Test, although a lack of bowling will be an issue, and Jeetan Patel is the back-up spinner. Daniel Flynn, the left hander, seems set for a Test debut after being given another chance in the middle order as does Aaron Redmond in the opening position.
Team: 1 Jamie How, 2 Aaron Redmond, 3 James Marshall, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt, wk), 6 Daniel Flynn, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Jeetan Patel, 10 Iain O'Brien, 11 Chris Martin
Player to watch: Tim Southee made an impressive start to his Test career with a five-wicket haul on debut in Napier. He has suffered some back problems in the early stages of this tour, but has now been given the all clear to resume. Barring any later reaction he is set to be part of the pace attack at Lord's and a good performance against the Lions will be a timely confidence boost.
Quotes"I'm having the stitches taken out on Saturday or Sunday and I'll know a little bit more then. I'm confident, but I've never dealt with this before and it's in the worst possible spot."
"It's always good to play a touring side in this part of the year, especially going into the first Test because you've got a great stage to stake your own claims personally and you can also do a little bit for England."
Robert Key looks forward to the chance of making a few points over the next four days
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