Wellington: The strength of England’s bench was on driven home with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer in the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand in Christchurch. Ahead of the second game, on Sunday, 3 November in Wellington, the onus is on the home side to display their own prowess.
Much like England, who have rested a host of their first-team players, New Zealand are missing their captain, Kane Williamson, and perhaps their most lethal pacer in Trent Boult, with both players rested to varying degrees. Unlike England, however, their bench has a lot more experience – the likes of Tim Seifert and Scott Kuggeleijn have been on the international scene for a while now.
Boult has been replaced by the express pace of Lockie Ferguson, remarkably playing just his sixth T20I in Christchurch, and the only real newbie in the side is Daryl Mitchell, who impressed with a 17-ball 30* in the opener.
New Zealand will be hoping for, nay expecting, a better performance come Sunday. Their bowlers, in particular, will have to step up, with all of Tim Southee, Ferguson, Kuggeleijn and Ish Sodhi going wicketless in the first game.
England will be unconcerned with all that. They will be encouraged by the fact that their youngsters – all of Pat Brown, Lewis Gregory and Sam Curran made debuts in the first T20I – were unfazed by the occasion, and the youth revolution will, hopefully for them, continue in Wellington.
To that end, the management might consider – if any changes are needed at all – including the fluent stroke-maker Tom Banton to the mix, even if his two outings in the warm-ups yielded 6 and 11.
Remember the last time
England eased to a seven-wicket win with nine balls to spare. They asked New Zealand to bat first, and their bowlers largely did a good job of ensuring none of the home batsmen blazed away. Apart from Ross Taylor (44 off 35) and Daryl Mitchell (30* off 17) late in the innings, everyone else was largely tied up and New Zealand managed to post 153/5.
England were relentless in pursuit of the target. Their openers put on 37, and then James Vince came in and bludgeoned a 38-ball 59 to steer the chase. Eoin Morgan contributed 34* assured runs off 21 balls, while Sam Billings’ 11-ball 14* meant the chase was completed in 18.3 overs.
What they said
Tim Southee, New Zealand captain: “We need to find a way to put pressure on the new batters coming out. We were a little bit off with the ball and in the field."