• History backs New Zealand

    New Zealand’s track record in Wellington makes them the firm favourites to heap more misery on England when the two teams square off on Friday.

    The Black Caps have picked the same team that beat Sri Lanka and Scotland for their third World Cup group match against an under-fire England.

    Captain Brendon McCullum said there were no injury concerns and confirmed the same 11 that beat Sri Lanka by 98 runs and Scotland by three wickets would take on England at a sold out Wellington Regional Stadium, reports stuff.co.nz.

    ‘We’ve played a bit of cricket on this wicket recently and we expect it to be the same. The guys have performed well so far and we want to give them that same opportunity again, and we think the balance of the team will suit us well on this ground,’ McCullum said.

    It’s been a happy hunting ground for the Black Caps, too, with nine wins from their past 11 completed one-day internationals going back to 2006.

    ‘We are familiar with these conditions; they can be a little bit different if it does cloud over that affects where you need to bowl in terms of lengths.

    ‘We learned a good lesson against Sri Lanka in terms of the lengths we needed to operate and we made some pretty quick adjustments for Pakistan.’

    The pitch is usually on the slow side, but batsmen have spoken in the past about it quickening up under lights and becoming easier to bat on, so the toss-winning captain may be tempted to bowl first.

    A total of 300 has been achieved five times in ODIs at the stadium, the most recent by New Zealand against India a year ago.

    McCullum revealed he caught up with opposition skipper Eoin Morgan, one of his best cricketing friends, on Wednesday night but they didn’t discuss his form or the England team’s recent struggles.

    After a 111-run loss at the hands of Australia in its first match in Melbourne to start off its World Cup campaign, England have all to play for in their second group match of the tournament.

    These first two matches are England’s toughest in the league stages, but this also presents it an opportunity to gain early momentum in a long tournament. However, the team has to lift its game in all departments. Against Australia, England’s fielders dropped two crucial catches, conceded 342 runs – including 105 in the last ten overs – and its batsmen were shot out in less than 42 overs.

    England’s batting line-up is strong on paper, but recent form has been a concern. The batsmen have been bowled out 12 times in the last 18 matches and average only 58.80 in the final 10 overs. Eoin Morgan, the captain, too is short of runs. Ian Bell and Joe Root have shown glimpses of ability, but they need to be more consistent against a balanced New Zealand attack. The middle order will take confidence from James Taylor’s unbeaten 98 against Australia.

    ‘The guys are really disappointed. There is a sense of frustration,’ admitted Morgan ahead of the match.

    ‘The big games that we play, these first two games in particular, are great practice for the later stages in the tour. If we can get wins under our belt against good opposition, it can breed confidence for later in the tour.’