Another scalp beckons for New Zealand
Match factsFebruary 20, 2013
Start time 2pm (0100 GMT)
Big PictureIt is hard to decide whether New Zealand are the most overestimated or underestimated team in world cricket. Without fail they are considered small fry for the more glamorous teams, yet a cautionary footnote is always offered. Such warnings cite their ability to pounce over any opposition looking a little off-colour. South Africa's weaker health was too timid in January and England also turned up a little pasty in the face as they lost the opening ODI in Hamilton.
Given that loss, England are again on the verge of a series defeat in New Zealand despite bringing probably their best ODI side since 1992 - the last time they won a series there. Consecutive series defeats will not be in the mind of Ashley Giles, who inherited the No. 1 ODI side in the world before Christmas.
The preparation of both camps would have made a difference in Hamilton. Almost half the England XI came into the match without a warm-up knock, following a few weeks recuperation after the India tour. They met a New Zealand side walking a little taller after their remarkable series win in South Africa. A match in, and Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, James Anderson and Graeme Swann should be fully adjusted to life in the land of the long white cloud. Arguably New Zealand's best simply isn't as good as England's best, and Cook's men will be focused on not selling themselves short again.
New Zealand, for their part, have another grand opening to claim a notable scalp and consecutive ODI series wins will be some turnaround from the shambles of the Test series in South Africa.
Form guideNew Zealand WLWWL (Completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlightRoss Taylor is one of the most talented batsman New Zealand have produced and he is yet to make a serious mark on his return to the side. A big performance could provoke a Nasser Hussain-style reaction that would not only send the clearest of messages to the New Zealand board but also ensure that Taylor becomes entrenched in the team's revival, having missed the landmark victory in South Africa.
He may be penned in for the Champions Trophy at No. 3 but Jonathan Trott will always have his doubters. Innings like his 68 in 90 balls in the first ODI don't do much for Trott's image and, despite his value as a base to play around, he needs to keep the runs ticking to quell the calls for flashier, younger players to replace him.
Team newsNew Zealand's victory in Hamilton came with its casualties. Mitchell McClenaghan has been ruled out of the series and Martin Guptill will miss at least the second ODI. McClenaghan's replacement, Tim Southee, is coming off a fine all-round first-class performance and will be hungry to reclaim lost ground after being sidelined by injury for two months. Hamish Rutherford, who made his international debut in the first T20 against England, replaces Guptill.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt & wk), 6 Grant Elliott, 7 James Franklin, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Tim Southee
England will probably stick with the same XI. James Harris could play to give Steven Finn a rest but with the series on the line, fielding a debutant is unlikely.
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn
Pitch and conditionsThe weather should be warm and sunny and McLean Park generally offers one of the best pitches to bat on in New Zealand. England will be looking for a similar score to their previous visit.
Stats and trivia
- Mitchell McClenaghan has taken 10 wickets at 19.70 in the first four ODIs of his career, including 4 for 20 on debut in Paarl, suggesting he will be missed.
- Remarkably, two of England's four matches at McLean Park have been ties. In 1997, England failed to overhaul 237and their last visit, in 2008, also finished with tied scores in a thriller that had 680 runs scored.
- The last time New Zealand won back-to-back ODI series when Zimbabwe or Bangladesh were not involved was in 2008, when they beat England home and away.
Quotes"I'm only in my early 30s and when I was growing up I was told you play your best cricket in your early 30s, whereas since I've turned 30 all I get asked is when I'm going to retire."
New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Mills is being dished out a few bouncers
"It would have been nice to have stayed in till the end with the bat, and put some more runs on the board. With the ball, I didn't finish as well as I'd like to. But to pick up two wickets in the middle was pleasing."
Chris Woakes analyses his performance in the first ODI
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo