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New Zealand v England second Test preview: England to go from strength to strength

Another stellar performance from England saw them win the first Test by 267 runs and the tourists now go in search of series-clinching victory in Wellington.

Brendon McCullum’s men continue to grow in confidence and their front-foot style caused New Zealand a whole host of problems in the first match and England are strong 20/23 favourites to win the second Test at Basin Reserve.

WhatNew Zealand v England, second Test
WhereBasin Reserve, Wellington
WhenFrom 22:00, Thursday, 23rd February
How to watchBT Sport 3
OddsNew Zealand 9/4, England 20/23, Draw 7/2

Stokes and co on a role with the red ball

It’s now six Test wins in a row for England and it’s the style of those victories that have been so impressive, as they continue their attacking approach.

Since McCullum took charge, England have lost just one of 11 Test matches and ‘Bazball’ has been fully taken on board by captain Ben Stokes and the rest of the squad.

In stark contrast, New Zealand have failed to win any of their last seven Tests and the 2021 World Test champions look to be going through a period of transition.

England’s progress is aiming for the squad to peak in time for this summer’s Ashes series, with Stokes’ men 11/10 to win back the urn on home soil.

Five different batters scored half-centuries for the tourists in the first Test, while the pace attack ran through the Black Caps line-up, with James Anderson and Stuart Broad making history once again.

Root on course for big score

It is 12 innings since Joe Root last hit three figures and although that run is no cause for concern, there will have been some frustration for the former skipper, with nine of those innings seeing him score less than 25 runs.

A quickfire 57 in the second innings in Tauranga looks to have come at a good time for the Yorkshireman, who said he “found a really good tempo” in the first Test.

Root, who is currently fifth in the Test batting world rankings, has an average of 48.63 against the Black Caps, with four of his 28 international red-ball centuries coming against the Kiwis.

The 32-year-old admits he was relieved to pass on the captaincy and he feels it is now important for him to “find a role in the team”.

Root, one of only three of the England squad to have previously played in a Test at the Basin Reserve, is 10/3 to be the Top Match Batter.

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Black Caps need experienced duo to shine

Kane Williamson has been the mainstay of the New Zealand batting line-up for the last decade, but six runs across two first-Test innings is a worry for the hosts heading to Wellington.

The 32-year-old has three centuries to his name at the Basin Reserve, although the last of those came in January 2017 - an unbeaten 104 against Bangladesh.

In the last eight Tests between the two sides, Williamson’s top score is 48 and the Black Caps need a big performance from the former captain if there are to halt this winning England run.

The New Zealand number three is 11/4 to be the hosts' Top 1st Innings Batter, while a first-innings lead for the Black Caps can be backed at 6/5.

The bowling department is more of a worry for coach Gary Stead, with Kyle Jamieson ruled out for an extended period after being told he needs back surgery.

Inexperienced pair Blair Tickner and Scott Kuggeleijn were used in Tauranga, but New Zealand look set to go back to a tried and tested option in Wellington.

Matt Henry is available following the birth of his second child and is expected to be included in the starting XI. The man from Christchurch is 10/3 to be New Zealand’s Top 1st Innings Bowler.

Swing can cause batters problems

The first Test was a day-night affair, played with a pink Kookaburra ball that many felt wouldn’t offer very much for the England bowlers.

But Anderson and Broad were able to find the swing they were hoping for and it could be more of the same in Wellington, where they will return to daylight action with a red ball.

Of the 39 wickets taken in the first Test, 27 dismissals were caught - with plenty of movement through the air - including six of the openers' wickets.

For the method of the first wicket, caught can be backed at 2/5, while 9/2 is available for the first scalp to be an LBW decision.

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