The first of two Test matches between England and New Zealand will take place at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. England will look to continue their excellent form, while New Zealand will attempt to shake off the cobwebs.
We preview all the action below.
England v New Zealand – Thursday 01:00 GMT
The first Test is set to go ahead regardless of the cyclone which has devastated the country and forced players from both teams to train indoors. The show must go on and we are set for a brilliant first Test between England and New Zealand.
England head into this fixture off the back of an incredible upsurge in performance during the second half of last year, which saw them win six of their seven summer Tests as well as closing out the year with a remarkable 3-0 whitewash in Pakistan before Christmas.
England are currently the 11/10 favourites, and will be full of confidence ahead of the Test. New head coach Brendon McCullum will be most pleased with his side’s performance and will look to make his mark in New Zealand to keep the momentum going.
New Zealand are the defending World Test Champions; however, they are out of practice as of late, only featuring in two bilateral test series in the last 11 months. This included the embarrassing Pakistan tour which saw The Blackcaps come away emptyhanded for a 0-0 settlement.
Head-to-head, New Zealand are trailing the English squad 51-12, excluding the 48 draws. In recent years the New Zealand form has drastically improved, registering three victories in a row between 2017-2021. However, in the last meeting between the pair, it was England who came out on top, and New Zealand are the underdogs for this meeting at 13/8.
On balance this is shaping up to be a terrific first test between the two behemoths, with England looking like they have a slight edge ahead of Thursday’s opening ball, despite the Kiwis home advantage.
As for the squad, unfortunately Mark Wood will be sitting this one out for injury prevention. However, a few big names are looking to make a comeback into the squad, including Stuart Broad, Matthew Potts and Dan Lawrence. Broad is 11/4 to be the top England bowler of the first innings.
The favourite to be top England run scorer is unsurprisingly Joe Root at 11/4, and he is followed by Ollie Pope at 4/1. Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley and Harry Brook share joint third favourite for top batsman at 9/2.
The New Zealand squad is looking strong, with Kane Williamson looking to be a key player since the batsman stepped down from the red-ball captaincy. He is considered one of the finest batsman the nation has ever seen, and is 5/2 to be the side’s top run scorer in the first innings.
As for the bowlers, Tim Southee takes the lead in the market at 12/5 to be the top New Zealand bowler in the first innings. He is swiftly followed by Neil Wagner at 5/2, and then Scott Kuggeleign and Ish Sodhi are each at 7/2.
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