The Black Caps take on England in Auckland tomorrow afternoon in their fifth and final Twenty20 showdown. Here’s all you need to know ahead of the clash.
Where is it, and when?
After 24 sixes were smoked over the small boundaries of Napier’s McLean Park yesterday, the two sides travel to the even smaller boundaries of Auckland’s Eden Park for the final match of the series, which is set to get underway at 2.00pm.
What’s the weather forecast?
There’s a reason we said “set to get underway” rather than “will get underway” in the previous section, as the weather forecast looks relatively grim. Showers are expected to fall throughout most of the day in Auckland, with perhaps only a brief period with clear skies. A brief period may be all they need – five overs a side is enough to qualify as a completed game – but if there is morning rain, the outfield will need time to dry.
Strong winds could help that cause, but with some seriously heavy and possibly thundery falls scheduled for later in the day, those winds would need to push the predicted rain well off course for the two teams to complete a match tomorrow.
What would that mean for the series?
Aptly enough, if a game isn’t able to be completed tomorrow, the series would end in a …. tie! Now, where have we seen that before?
The series is currently locked at 2-2 after England set a bunch of batting records in a 76-run thrashing in Napier last night, with Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan looking ominous if the game goes ahead tomorrow.
If they play – how do the Black Caps bounce back?
Well, bowling better, for one, would help, after they let England feast on too many full-tosses or over-pitched deliveries in Napier. Having said that, with the way Malan and Morgan were hitting the ball yesterday, even good deliveries were getting pelted, so the Black Caps will also need to hope for some regression to the mean from those two.
England surely won’t go that ballistic again (at least, you’d think not…), and Malan’s T20 record in particular – an average of 57.2 at a strike rate of 156 – has to come back down to earth. But while he and Morgan may not be as destructive, the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings and Lewis Gregory have yet to show what they can do during this series, and aren’t to be discounted.
What are the likely starting lineups?
The Black Caps will bring back Jimmy Neesham for Daryl Mitchell, if he has recovered from the illness that saw him miss the Napier T20. There could also be a spot for Scott Kuggeleijn’s return, if Ish Sodhi’s expensive returns leave him an unattractive option on Eden Park’s short boundaries.
Possible New Zealand XI:
Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert, Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Blair Tickner.
England will likely be loath to change a winning side too much. James Vince could return for Billings or Gregory to bolster the batting, with Banton or Bairstow able to take the gloves if Billings drops out, while with Matt Parkinson taking four wickets yesterday, the only other toss-up in the side will be between rookie seamers Pat Brown and Saqib Mahmood, or opting for two spinners and including Adil Rashid at the expense of both youngsters. An unchanged team is the most likely outcome.
Possible England XI:
Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Pat Brown, Matt Parkinson.
Who are the favourites?
The Black Caps are $1.78 favourites, with England slight outsiders at $1.95.
How can I follow the game?
You can follow the Herald’s live blog from 1.30pm, or listen to live commentary on Radio Sport. The match is broadcast live on SKY Sport 2 from 1.30pm, and SKY customers can live stream the match on SKY Sport Now.