After a relatively easy win in the first Twenty20 International in Christchurch, England will be keen to carry on their momentum when they face New Zealand in the second T20I in Wellington on Sunday (November 3).
It was an ideal start for the English side with both their batsmen and bowlers collectively firing. Chris Jordan was the pick of the bowlers for England with two wickets and a perfectly acceptable economy of 7 as the hosts were restricted to a below-par 153/5. England then led by James Vince’s maiden T20I half-century and Eoin Morgan’s quickfire unbeaten knock hardly broke a sweat in chasing down the target with nine balls to spare.
The surface used in the first T20I was on the slower side and the same is expected at Westpac Stadium, the venue for the second T20I. The spinners have an upper hand at this ground. In the last three games here spinners have performed better than their pace counterparts having taken a wicket in every 15.4 deliveries.
Among spinners, slow left-arm orthodox bowlers have done a magnificent job at this venue, conceding at less than seven an over and have managed to get a wicket every 13.5 deliveries.
Mitchell Santner, the lone bright spark for New Zealand in the first game, will once again be expected to deliver the goods in Wellington. Someone like Adil Rashid might also come into play.
On the batting front, the average first innings score on this ground since the start of 2018 is fairly high - 173. Both New Zealand and England have a host of firepowers in their lineup. England will once again rely on the likes of Vince, Morgan and Jonny Bairstow at the top of the order while Sam Curran and Lewis Gregory will be in charge of providing the late charge.
England have a very well-balanced squad and that is something that is likely to keep them in good stead all along. Power-hitters at the start, people to consolidate in the middle while the bowling also is a well-balanced unit.
New Zealand, on the other hand have some headaches to solve. The biggest one being the consistent failures of their openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro. Both Guptill and Munro have not been able to fire at all this year and that is hurting New Zealand. After the Christchurch T20I, Munro is averaging just 22.50 from eight T20Is this year with one half-century while Guptill, having played four T20Is in 2019, is averaging a lowly 4.66. New Zealand do not have much batting depth and Ross Taylor is often left doing the bulk of the scoring. The hosts will desperately hope one of Munro or Guptill comes out all guns blazing in the second game.
Guptill will take heart from the fact that Westpac Stadium is one of his favourite grounds. He is the leading run-scorer for New Zealand here having scored 287 runs in eight T20Is with a top score of 78*. England were intelligent in their strategy to Guptill in Christchurch and the opener will have to come out with some plans to counter that come Sunday.
New Zealand have a good record at Westpac Stadium. They have won seven of the ten T20Is played here, and being 1-0 down, will be keen on getting their mojo back.
The weather is expected to be sunny and the skies will be clear and we should have a full game in without any interruptions. The temperatures is expected to hover in the mid-20s range. The short boundaries, particularly straight, should give us a high-scoring game.
There are no injury concerns as such for the New Zealand setup. Though the batting unit was found floundering at Christchurch, there is little chance that the hosts will make a change in their top five. Scott Kuggeleijn, who conceded 35 runs from his three overs in the first game could make way for all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who will also provide batting depth. There could be a tussle between Ish Sodh and Lockie Ferguson for the last spot. The former might pip the pacer in case the surface is spin-friendly.
Likely XI: Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Daryl Mitchell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi/Lockie Ferguson
Joe Denly has been ruled out of the T20I series which means Lewis Gregory might play all the five games. England have time and again insisted on a rotation approach although it remains to be seen whether they make that choice right from the start. If they do go with that approach we could see Tom Banton making his T20I debut in place of Dawid Malan while Saqib Mahmood could come in for Pat Brown.
Likely XI: Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, James Vince, Eoin Morgan, Lewis Gregory, Sam Billings, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan, Pat Brown