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February 14, 2008
In Hamilton, on Tuesday, they inflicted one of England's heaviest defeats as Jesse Ryder and Brendon McCullum launched an astonishing attack to chase down a 165-run target in 18 overs. New Zealand's bowlers and fielders have built huge pressure on the England batsmen, resulting in six run outs in two matches and paltry totals of 130 and 158.
However, despite the ease of the two wins Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's captain, is refusing to get carried away. "We've come out and managed to put pressure on them like they did to us in the Twenty20s and we've got to continue that momentum because I still think these sides are evenly matched," he said.
"We've played to the top of our game so far in this series and we need to continue our momentum because good teams build on what they've done, they don't fall back on it."
A chastened England have had some harsh words to say between themselves and Kevin Pietersen called the drubbing in Hamilton one of his lowest moments. "That's probably the worst I've known with the one-day side, certainly," he told The Press Association.
"It wasn't a special place to be in the dressing room the other night but what's gone is gone and what we need to realise is that tomorrow [Friday] is hopefully going to be a start to a change that we have to make. We have three games left and it's pretty simple - we have to win three games to win the series."
It is a similar situation to the one England found themselves in during the CB Series last year. They suffered a horrendous nine-wicket defeat against Australia in Adelaide - the match was over before the floodlights came on - but somehow managed to turn their form around and claim the trophy.
Pietersen missed most of that series after breaking a rib in the first game but believes the current team has the ability to mount another comeback. "I think this team is good enough to do it and I can't put my finger on what's happened in the last week - I haven't got a clue," he said. "We all think we're good enough to beat New Zealand, we did last week twice in four days, so it's a case of going out and trying to turn this series around in 24 hours."
He admits that England may have got carried away after the ease of their Twenty20 victories and said the past week was a reality check. "Sometimes you can get too far ahead of yourself, get your feet off the ground and try and act and do things you probably shouldn't be doing and you take a few things for granted."
After sticking with the same XI for two games the margin of England's defeats mean changes are inevitable. There could be as many as three new faces with Dimitri Mascarenhas, Luke Wright and Chris Tremlett all vying for a place while Ravi Bopara and James Anderson are the ones most under pressure.
New Zealand have Iain O'Brien, the swing bowler, on stand-by as cover for Michael Mason who suffered a side strain in Hamilton while picking up two wickets.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Jesse Ryder, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Jamie How, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Scott Styris, 6 Peter Fulton, 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Iain O'Brien, 11 Chris Martin
England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook, 2 Phil Mustard (wk), 3 Ian Bell, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood (capt), 6 Owais Shah, 7 Dimitri Mascarenhas, 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Chris Tremlett, 11 Ryan Sidebottom
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