New Zealand and England have much work to do if they are to join Australia in the Trans-Tasman tri-series final, with the greater pressure on the Three Lions, having already played twice.
The fact that neither side has performed to anything like their capability so far sets up an intriguing first clash between the pair in Wellington on Tuesday, with perhaps the focus on which batting unit will turn up.
Australia’s revamped Twenty20 side has proved too strong so far in the series and, although they have won the toss in each game and had the perceived luxury of batting second, the way their bowlers have dominated the batsmen will be a major worry to these two sides going into Tuesday’s clash.
There could be an argument that England have less cause for concern as they looked to be in a good position in their opening loss to the Baggy Greens, standing at 109-3 after 12 overs, only for a not-uncommon collapse to derail their plans.
Eoin Morgan’s men might still have won that game had they taken one of two chances offered by Glenn Maxwell, who went on to score 103 of the 156 required, but they failed to back that up in the second game, never recovering after falling to 34-3.
New Zealand offered a similar story first up, slumping to 16-3 against the Aussie pacemen and were unable to post anything like a competitive total.
Such is the nature of T20 cricket that anything is possible and one of these sides will have the chance to bat second for the first time in the series.
The batsmen still need to stand up though and there has been a recent tendency for England’s to falter, while they continue to struggle against spin.
New Zealand have two spinners currently in the top three of the ICC T20 bowling rankings so it could be worth siding with either of these two in the Top New Zealand bowler market, with Mitchell Santner priced at 7/2 and Ish Sodhi at 33/10.
There looks to be an element of experimentation about both sides, with New Zealand’s batting top heavy with their big-hitting openers, Colin Munro and Martin Guptill joint-favourites at 3/1 to be the Top New Zealand Batsman.
Munro looks a solid option having hit three T20 centuries for the Black Caps but, like a lot of T20 cricket, can be hit or miss so it may pay to take a chance on Colin de Grandhomme at 8/1, having top-scored in the defeat to Australia, if the hosts suffer another early collapse.
England have issues of their own with Jason Roy and Alex Hales (both 7/2 to be Top England Batsman) not looking in particularly good form, while Morgan remains an injury doubt and may not play.
Stand-in skipper Jos Buttler remains key to England’s fortunes and looks a good shout at 4/1 to be his side’s top man again, particularly in the absence of the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali.
England have won plaudits for their vast improvement in white-ball cricket but that has tended to be in the 50-over format, despite their run to the T20 World Cup final, and New Zealand at home look the better value as underdogs in the match betting market at 20/21.
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