T20I series preview: NZ v England


The Black Caps, while young and inexperienced, are capable of miracles in the shorter formats, as they demonstrated in South Africa.

Of the six T20s England and New Zealand have contested, the most recent of which was at the World Twenty20 last year, the Three Lions have won the past five, so the three matches coming up could narrow the gap considerably.

If we're honest, England are the likely victors of the series, though they may not get a whitewash, as betting firms like <a href='http://www.paddypower.com' class='instorylink'><b>Paddy Power</b></a> are likely to demonstrate. The Black Caps, while young and inexperienced, are capable of miracles in the shorter formats, as they demonstrated in South Africa.

The Proteas were tipped to drub the Kiwis in the ODI series but ended up losing, while the T20 series saw South Africa win 2-1. Brendon McCullum's side is, and always has been, a dark horse, and England will need to stay on their toes.

As it is, they're coming into the series on the back of a defeat to a New Zealand XI that featured a lot of the players in the proper team. Added to this, the Kiwis will be boosted by the return of former skipper Ross Taylor, who will be eager to prove a point.

After being sacked as captain, Taylor missed the tour to South Africa as he wanted a break from the drama, but the team will be hoping his head is back in the game and can get some big runs, because aside from Kane Williamson, the top order has not really been firing.

For England, skipper Stuart Broad will be hoping his side can improve on the 1-1 series draw against India, as well as the 1-1 draw against the New Zealand XI earlier this month. This, too, is a good opportunity for Broad to test his injured heel, which can't be healed but only maintained – or so he says.

Inconsistency was the name of the game for them, as was expensive bowling, courtesy of Jade Dernbach, and fans who <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' class='instorylink'><b>bet on cricket</b></a> could do well to steer clear. Tim Bresnan is out with an elbow injury, so Stuart Meaker is in the side, while the spin duties will fall to the impressive James Tredwell and Joe Root.

<b>Key Men</b><br>The Black Caps will be looking to <b>Ross Taylor</b>, as one of the few experienced players in the side, to make sure they have totals to defend, or chase a target. The bowling unit is decent, but they can only do so much if the batsmen don't get runs on the board, and Taylor is their best batsman.

England have a number of game changers, including Stuart Broad, who has come back to form, but <b>Luke Wright</b> could be the difference between the sides. The big-hitting T20 specialist can take an attack apart, and bowls a bit of handy medium pace too.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b><br>2012: World Twenty20: England won by six wickets in Pallekele<br>2010: World Twenty20: England won by three wickets in St Lucia<br>2008: One-off T20I: England won by nine wickets in Manchester<br>2008: Second T20I: England won by 50 runs in Christchurch<br>2008: First T20I: England won by 32 runs in Auckland

<b>Squads</b><br><i>New Zealand:</i> Brendon McCullum (captain), Trent Boult, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, Andrew Ellis, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Ronnie Hira, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Colin Munro, Hamish Rutherford, Ross Taylor, Jimmy Neesham.

<i>England:</i> Stuart Broad (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Michael Lumb, Stuart Meaker, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, James Tredwell, Chris Woakes, Luke Wright.

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First T20I: 9 February – Eden Park, Auckland<br>Second T20I: 12 February – Seddon Park, Hamilton<br>Third T20I: 15, February – Westpac Stadium, Wellington