Auckland: New Zealand are at their competitive best in the limited-over version and a thrilling three-wicket victory over England in the series opener at Hamilton proved that the ODI series win against South Africa was no fluke. But an England side far superior in skills got their act together in the second match at Napier and in the third and the final ODI at Auckland on Saturday, Brendon McCullum's side need to dig deep to stop England taking their first bilateral series in New Zealand since 1992.
Kane Williamson remains a central figure in the New Zealand batting line-up at No. 3, and the hosts' will take heart from comeback man Ross Taylor's hundred at McLean Park. Their middle order looks settled with McCullum coming at either No. 5 or 6 according to the situation and imposing his batting on the opposition, but it is at the top where New Zealand falter.
Their regular opener across all the three formats, Martin Guptill, has been ruled out of the series owing to a thumb injury. Guptill had missed the second ODI due to a hamstring niggle and will be replaced by Hamish Rutherford for the last ODI who had made an unimpressive debut at McLean Park. With BJ Watling failing to provide his team with a solid start, the England bowlers have had the upper hand in the first ten overs in both the ODIs.
The uncapped Middlesex seamer James Harris could make his debut if England opt to rest Steven Finn for the final ODI.
For England, Joe Root has made the No. 4 spot his own in the last two ODIs scoring fifties on both occasions, and to see his back early would increase New Zealand's chances of winning the final ODI. Jonathan Trott, who was criticised for his slow innings (68 off 90 balls) in the first match, anchored the chase at Napier and scored at a brisk pace. The New Zealand fast bowlers have been ineffective against the visitors' top order and with Mitchell McClenaghan highly doubtful for the third ODI as well, the hosts will have to rely on the spin of Williamson and Nathan McCullum to keep England at bay.
An injury-hit New Zealand would be going in with the same XI who played at Napier with Kyle Mills, Tim Southee and Trent Boult looking after the pace department. England too might field an unchanged XI, though there is a very slim chance of resting Steven Finn to try out the uncapped Middlesex seamer James Harris.
New Zealand: 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt/wk), 6 Grant Elliott, 7 James Franklin, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Tim Southee
England : 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Ian Bell, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Chris Woakes, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn/James Harris.