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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

England can weather the storm to take early advantage

The return of Ben Stokes gives depth to the England batting line-up
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First Test
Sky Sports Cricket, 1am Wednesday night

England could make the best possible start to their quest to put their Ashes torment behind them under the lights at Eden Park.

A stormy forecast has seen the draw clipped into as short as 2-1 in recent days but that looks poor value given the short history of day-night Tests.

All eight Test matches played in the twilight zone have ended with a winner while England have drawn just two of their last 20 Tests and New Zealand only three in the same period.

England will have to be wary of the threat posed by the Kiwis' pace trio of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner but if they can keep them at bay when the pink ball is swinging they should have the edge in the batting ranks to make it count when the ball becomes softer and easier to play.

Ben Stokes's return lengthens the tail that was so badly exposed in Australia, allowing Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali to counter-attack from numbers seven and eight.

The Kiwis have been the masters of extracting the maximum from their ability for years but this is not a vintage side and if England can shackle Williamson and Taylor when they take to the crease, there are enough chinks in their armour for the Three Lions to exploit.

England to win first Test

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Ben Stokes's return lengthens the tail that was so badly exposed in Australia
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