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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Explosive England should edge thrilling series

New Zealand's Martin Guptill poses big-hitting threat in first ODI

Chris Woakes showed off England's batting depth in the ODI series in Australia
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First ODI
Sky Sports Cricket/Main Event, 1am Sunday

England won the one-day series in Australia 4-1 and they can complete a trans-Tasman double against New Zealand in a five-match duel that starts in Hamilton.

Eoin Morgan's men are third in the ICC ODI rankings with the Black Caps just one spot below them, so a hard-fought contest looks likely.

Both teams have power-packed batting line-ups, with Joe Root and Kane Williamson providing the finesse, and New Zealand's bowling attack has to be respected on home turf.

The Kiwis blew away Champions Trophy winners Pakistan 5-0 in last month's one-dayers, extending their home ODI record since the start of the 2015 World Cup to 30 wins in 35 completed matches.

England were abject at that World Cup but they have reinvented themselves and become one of the most aggressive and successful 50-over sides in the world.

That high-octane approach can spill over into recklessness at times – they were 8-5 inside seven overs against Australia in Adelaide – but their batting depth is a huge strength.

Number eight Chris Woakes scored 39 not out, 53 not out and 78 against Australia and he, along with Root, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali, returns fit and refreshed after sitting out the Trans-Tasman Twenty20 Tri-Series.

The most high-profile returning player is, of course, Ben Stokes – available for selection after his court appearance in Bristol.

The all-rounder may take time to click into top gear but England are undoubtedly a stronger, better-balanced side with him involved and they could edge a cracking series.

New Zealand's Martin Guptill will be delighted to start the series in Hamilton, where he top-scored with 62 in the Kiwis' Tri-Series clash with England last Sunday.

His last four one-dayers at Seddon Park yielded scores of 105, 59, 180 not out and 31, and he averages 66 against England, blasting an unbeaten 189 at the Rose Bowl in 2013.

Guptill is relishing his new partnership with the ultra-aggressive Colin Munro, scoring 48, 86 not out, 45, 31 and 100 in the Pakistan series, and he can lead the way for the hosts.

Both teams' batsmen love to take the aerial route and going over bet365's sixes line of 10.5 could be profitable.

The two sides' batting depth encourages top-order players to play more big shots and Morgan, Munro, Guptill, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme and Jos Buttler are all capable of six-hitting pyrotechnics.

De Grandhomme cleared the ropes five times in 40 balls against Pakistan in last month's ODI in Hamilton and the maximums tallies in the last ten games at Seddon Park have been 17, 18, nine, ten, 11, 14, 16, 21, 11 and 17.

Series recommendation
England to win series 3-2
2pts 7-4 general

First ODI recommendations
M Guptill top New Zealand runscorer
1pt 100-30 general
Over 10.5 sixes
4pts 5-6 bet365

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England have reinvented themselves and become one of the most aggressive and successful 50-over sides in the world
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