Root is under pressure to thrive

England To Triumph In Day/Night Test Against NZ

New Zealand and England kick-off their two-match Test series in a day/night contest at Eden Park in Auckland.

The Three Lions are looking to bounce back following their 4-0 hammering at the hands of Australia in the Ashes. Joe Root’s men failed to rise to the occasion and were soundly beaten, putting the team under pressure to respond in New Zealand.

Kane Williamson’s side will put forward a strong challenge especially on home soil. They’ve won three out of their four series in New Zealand, including their triumph over the West Indies in December by a 2-0 margin.

The Black Caps were dominant against the West Indies, winning the first match by an innings and the second by 240 runs. Only South Africa have beaten them on home soil in their recent run, which will present a tough test for England in their bid to return to form on the road.

Trevor Bayliss’ side enjoyed themselves since the end of the Ashes, beating both Australia and New Zealand and 50-over cricket. However, the Test players return to the fold for the final leg of a mammoth tour that began at the end of October and will end on April 3.

England will be determined to sign off with a victory to end their winter campaign on a high note.

New Zealand’s Top Batsman

The attention of the series will be on the battle between Williamson and Root. However, Ross Taylor proved that during the one-day series he is in arguably the form of his life. The 34-year-old scored two centuries in his four matches, including an outstanding knock of 181 to guide the Black Caps to victory at Dunedin. Taylor missed the final match of the series due to injury, which played a role in New Zealand’s heavy defeat at Christchurch, allowing England to secure the series win.

Taylor’s fitness and form will be more important than ever in Auckland to overcome the prowess of England’s new ball bowlers. James Anderson and Stuart Broad can tear any batting line-up at the peak of their powers. In advantageous conditions with the pink ball they will be expected to fire. Batting at number Taylor will be in prime position to see off the threat and capitalise when the ball softens. He scored his 17th Test century in his last innings against the West Indies and will be desperate to capitalise on his imperious form at the crease. Back him to lead the run column at odds of +225   with 888Sport.

England’s Top Batsman

Root is under pressure to thrive

Root will be under pressure to deliver after an underwhelming Ashes series. The captain failed to match the standards of his counterpart Steve Smith. Root’s troubles reaching three figures in the Test arena continued as he made five fifties in the five matches, although he was prevented from getting over the line in Sydney due to sickness. The 27-year-old has been criticised for his conversion rate, notching 37 half-centuries compared to his 13 hundreds. Compared to his contemporaries Virat Kohli, Smith and Williamson – his record is inferior, although his average remains in the low fifties.

The burden of captaincy appeared to weigh on the Yorkshireman at times in Australia. He was far more relaxed when Eoin Morgan was leading the team. The time away from the leadership position may have allowed Root to settle down after the defeat. He played well during the one-day series, scoring a century at Dunedin. Root carried the form into the warm-up matches, notching a hundred in Hamilton. Back the England captain to fire from the off in Auckland, with odds of +275   with Betway.

New Zealand’s Top Bowler

Trent Boult and Tim Southee were not quite at their best during the ODI series and will be looking to find their form for the Test matches. England’s premier bowlers will come to New Zealand fresh off 10-week break and the Black Caps have to ensure their men are able to match their production. Neil Wagner did not play in the ODI series and will enter the series with momentum following his performances against the West Indies. He claimed career-best figures of 7/39 in the opener at Wellington, claiming his scalps in a single day and within two sessions.

Wagner’s left-arm pace has the ability to cause England problems, although he does not boast the express pace of Mitchell Starc. In two matches at Eden Park he has claimed 11 wickets at an average of 20.27. In the series against the Three Lions in 2013 he was far from his best, but he did enjoy a fine performance against India in 2014. At odds of +300   with 888Sport – he has decent value to lead the wicket column.

England’s Top Bowler

Anderson continues to dominate

Anderson was one of the few England players to emerge with his reputation enhanced in Australia. He continued to thrive in the series, notching 17 wickets in the five matches. He returns to action well rested and ready to lead the attack the Three Lions’ bowling attack. The Lancastrian remains at the peak of his powers, despite his advancing years. Anderson continues to lower his career average and will be lining up the next achievement of his career – surpassing Glenn McGrath’s record of 563 wickets for a pace bowler. He’s 40 wickets away and an impressive series would take him within striking distance for the English summer.

Anderson has a good record against New Zealand overall, taking 52 wickets in his 12 matches against the Black Caps. The 35-year-old’s ascendency to become England’s premier bowler began in 2008 against New Zealand when he dominated on home soil. Anderson has not been at his best in New Zealand, averaging 36 with the ball. However, back him to improve from the off in Auckland with odds of +250   with BetVictor.

Winner

England have the perfect opportunity to bounce back from their Ashes defeat in the opener in Auckland. The day/night Test and pink ball reduces the impact of home advantage for the Black Caps, while the Three Lions have the bowlers to capitalise. Both Alastair Cook and Root have impressed in day/night conditions and that could be the edge in the contest. Back the tourists at odds of +130   with BetVictor to take the first Test.

Tips Summary

England To Beat New Zealand 1st Test
Thursday 22nd March 2018 14:00 NZDT (1:00 GMT)
Odds: +130

Ross Taylor To Be New Zealand’s Top Batsman
Thursday 22nd March 2018 14:00 NZDT (1:00 GMT)
Odds: +225

Neil Wagner To Be New Zealand’s Top Bowler
Thursday 22nd March 2018 14:00 NZDT (1:00 GMT)
Odds: +300

Joe Root To Be England’s Top Batsman
Thursday 22nd March 2018 14:00 NZDT (1:00 GMT)
Odds: +275

James Anderson To Be England’s Top Bowler
Thursday 22nd March 2018 14:00 NZDT (1:00 GMT)
Odds: +250

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