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June 17, 2008
Match factsWednesday June 18, 2008
Big PictureEngland are on a roll. It's taken a while for them to reach top speed, but since they turned their fortunes around midway through the Old Trafford Test, they have won four games in a row against New Zealand, and showed an increasingly clean pair of heels on each occasion. They may have lost the last one-day series between these two teams, 3-1 in New Zealand in February, but a repeat reversal does not seem remotely on the cards against a demoralised and outclassed opposition. Sunday's contest in Chester-le-Street was over long before Kevin Pietersen started stretching the laws of the game with his astonishing switch-hitting, and if New Zealand cannot draw level at Edgbaston on Wednesday, the five-ODI series could also seem out of sight.
Form guideEngland WLTWL (most recent first)
Watch out for...Kevin Pietersen Not many cricketers have required a special MCC meeting to discuss the legitimacy of their genius, but that was what Pietersen brought about this week when he flipped his stance against Scott Styris, and drove him clean over a lefthander's long-on and deep square-leg for two outrageous sixes. Quite apart from the sheer brilliance of his batting, Pietersen showed that his confidence levels have been utterly replenished after a difficult winter. And with Pietersen's former countrymen, South Africa, lurking around the corner, New Zealand cannot expect any let-up.
Daniel Vettori New Zealand's ship is close to sinking, and so all eyes are turning towards their captain, to see if he can find any inspiration to turn their fortunes around. Vettori cut a demoralised figure after the Twenty20 defeat at Old Trafford, and his mood has not been enhanced by the enforced absence of his best limited-overs allrounder, Jacob Oram, with a hamstring strain. It could require a virtuoso captain's performance to reignite his team's prospects
Team newsAlastair Cook is once again absent for England, having failed to recover from the right shoulder problem that hindered him during the third Test at Trent Bridge. His Test opening partner, Andrew Strauss, has been called into the squad as cover but is unlikely to break into a steady batting line-up that flourished as a unit in Sunday's first ODI.
England (probable) 1 Luke Wright, 2 Ian Bell, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Paul Collingwood (capt), 6 Owais Shah, 7 Tim Ambrose (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Ryan Sidebottom, 11 James Anderson.
Oram's hamstring strain is serious enough to sideline him for at least ten days, which means that the South Africa-born allrounder, Grant Elliott, has been called up from Surrey League cricket as cover. He has been thrust into the starting line-up, if only to provide an extra bowling option, because James Marshall has not taken his opportunities at No. 3, while the decision to relieve Brendon McCullum of the wicketkeeping gloves means that Gareth Hopkins is a fixture in the lower middle-order.
New Zealand 1 Brendon McCullum, 2 Jamie How, 3 Ross Taylor, 4 Scott Styris, 5 Daniel Flynn, 6 Grant Elliott, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Michael Mason, 11 Tim Southee.
Umpires: Steve Davis and Ian Gould
Stats and Trivia
Quotes"He walked up the wicket and said 'I was thinking about doing that in bed last night', so the visualisation was there."
"I'm not sure the guys are quite up to it just yet, but I'm sure some of them will get there."
New Zealand's Daniel Flynn backs his team-mates to emulate such exploits.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the day from the fifth ODI in Ranchi
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough