Rival skippers Brendon McCullum and Alastair Cook got their hands on the World Cup today in what they hope will be a precursor to glory in two years’ time in New Zealand and Australia.
With the series poised 1-1 ahead of tomorrow’s third and final ODI between New Zealand and England at Eden Park in Auckland, World Cup organisers took the chance to promote the tournament which will be co-hosted on either side of the Tasman in 2015.
It’s also the last ODI England will play on New Zealand soil before the tournament begins, although the two sides reconvene for a three-match ODI series in early June, in England, and meet again in a Champions Trophy group match in Cardiff on June 16.
England are considered favourites after their clinical eight-wicket victory in game two in Napier, chasing down 270 with ease.
If they win tomorrow both sides will remain the same in the world rankings; England second behind India, and New Zealand eighth, below the West Indies.
But if New Zealand cause an upset they’ll climb to seventh, and England will slip below Australia to third.
McCullum said the presence of the World Cup at Eden Park held some significance amid the importance of tomorrow’s match, which starts at 2pm.
“It [World Cup] is still two years away and there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge before then, and a lot more development to go in within this team and its performances before then. We’re not casting too many eyes to that at this stage,” McCullum said.
“But from our point of view it is a clutch game. We had a great series in South Africa where we were able to win it inside the first two. This one sits 1-all and a decider, these are the sort of occasions that you hope you turn up and play your best game and seize those clutch moments. Tomorrow’s a really important day for us.”
McCullum said both sides will want to bowl first, particularly after the chasing team had won both ODIs so far.
“England won the T20 game here [batting first] but they blew us out of the water with a massive score.
“I get the feeling it’s a chasing ground, even though England won that game setting a total. It seems every ground in New Zealand with the small boundaries and decent wickets, chasing is not a bad option.”
New Zealand’s only selection poser is whether to recall Andrew Ellis on Eden Park’s long side boundaries, McCullum said. That may mean Trent Boult misses out, although Ellis was expensive in Hamilton.
It would surprise if England made any changes after their performance in Napier.
England batsman Jonathan Trott, who’s scored 68 and 65 not out in two innings on tour, said the short straight boundaries added a new dimension.
“It’s interesting how our bowlers are going to combat their skills and strengths. It will be high scoring like the T20 and we can expect fireworks on a drop-in pitch,” he said.
Tomorrow’s Auckland forecast is excellent, with fine weather and an expected maximum of 26 degrees Celsius.
New Zealand Cricket said as many as 15,000 tickets had been pre-sold.
Tune in to Stuff.co.nz for a live audio commentary stream of the match.
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