England and New Zealand drew a T20 series over the last week or so but they begin a much more important ODI series in Cardiff on Friday when the first of four matches takes place in the Welsh capital.
With these two opening the World Cup in 29 days this match and the three that follows it will act as last bits of preparation for the tournament, one in which England will be looking to defend their title and New Zealand will be looking to go one better than four years ago.
It was fairly obvious from the squad that they picked for the T20 matches that they didn’t really care too much for them but England would still have been disappointed to only come out with a share of a series they took a 2-0 lead in with two very dominant performances. I’m not sure how much we can read into those games as a form guide but it might give those who were involved in them and who play here a little more motivation.
England will be judged much more on these matches and the focus will be on their bowlers. I don’t think too many people will think that England are going to struggle for runs when they get to India for the World Cup but their fortunes in that event will be determined by how well they bowl. The attention will grow on their spinners the longer these matches go on but with the heatwave going on in the UK at present they should be important here too.
New Zealand were visibly annoyed by their displays in those opening two T20 matches but they deserve a lot of credit for bouncing back to level the series and that will give them something to build on when they go into these ODI matches. New Zealand have been to the last two World Cup finals in this format of the game without getting their hands on the title so they are certainly not short of motivation over the next couple of months or so.
New Zealand probably don’t have any concerns over their bowling unit heading into the World Cup. They have a good mix of seamers who can get early wickets and spinners who can put the halt on any charge that might be materialising. The question over them is whether they have the batting to be competitive in India. They have a solid top order but there isn’t an abundance of power hitters and if the scores that win games are upwards of 325 as expected that could be a concern.
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Jason Roy, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Mark Wood all missed the T20 series but they are all in the squad for this match and could come into the side. The likes of Will Jacks, Luke Wood and Rehan Ahmed will make way. Harry Brook will be hoping to force his way in at some point.
New Zealand also have some big players back for this series. Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls and Trent Boult all return to the side but there will be no Kane Williamson until the early stages of the World Cup at least.
I’m not a massive fan of taking under on runs in an England match because they have a batting unit that can strike fear into the opposition but it is going to be so hard for the groundsman in Cardiff to have produced a flat deck here with the temperatures that the UK have been experiencing over the last week or so. The pitches in Cardiff usually turn and stick in the wicket at this time of year anyway but the heatwave will probably only heighten that.
The line for this one is at 542.5 which is a little on the high side for Cardiff anyway with the square boundaries being as big as they are but with New Zealand not really having that finisher with the bat and England having to tame the Kiwi bowling attack I do think this will be a bit high. You wouldn’t think the pitch will get any better as the day goes on given the temperatures are going to be pushing 30 all day so I’ll go with the under.
Back Under 542.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
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