England v New Zealand (first ODI)
You would think that an England ODI series victory over New Zealand would be something of a formality following their dominance in the latter stages of the first Test and throughout the recently completed second Test. Coral go 9/4 a 3-0 whitewash and that will prove an attractive price to many.
England are on a high and will go into tomorrow’s first ODI at Lord’s with the guts of their fizzing five-day side augmented by explosive short-game specialists Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler.
The Black Caps, on the other hand, must be feeling low after being put in their place in the Test series by their hosts. Not only that, they are missing all-rounder Andrew Ellis and wicketkeeper/batsman B J Watling because of injuries and they may also have to do without one of their leading bowlers, Trent Boult, who damaged an ankle at Headingley.
Their ODI standing in the world is reflected by their position as outsiders of eight for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy. Surely this is almost a mismatch.
But it doesn’t work like that. The Kiwis are a resilient bunch and a talented ODI outfit, capable of beating anyone on their day – they overcame South Africa away 2-1 as recently as last January. England certainly deserve to be favourites, but this could be a very closely fought series and 2-1 to the home side (5/4 with Coral) is a more likely outcome.
New Zealand will be freshened up by a few new faces. Watch out in particular for former Australia international Luke Ronchi (6/1 to be leading scorer), who will open the batting and probably keep wicket on debut for the country of his birth. The 32-year-old batted just twice in four ODI starts for the Aussies five years ago, but sure made an impact on the second occasion, swatting six sixies in a rapid 64.
Kane Williamson can also be destructive with the bat – he once scored a century off just 69 balls in a ODI against Zimbabwe – and looks a safer bet at 7/2 to be New Zealand’s top batsman. Williamson made a huge impression when scoring 131 on his Test debut against India three years ago and great things are expected of this gifted young cricketer.
Cook (11/4) Ian Bell (3/1) and Jonathan Trott (7/2) are the front-runners to be England’s top batsman at Lord’s, but maybe punters are still not fully appreciating yet just how good Joe Root is – he can score quickly when required, too – and Coral’s 6/1 looks tempting.