Our cricket expert Richard Mann looks ahead to the series decider between New Zealand and England and is backing Tom Curran to get amongst the wickets again.
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An enthralling couple of weeks of ODI cricket comes to a conclusion in Christchurch on Friday as New Zealand and England face off in the series decider.
England appeared well on the way to an unassailable 3-1 lead on Tuesday when reducing the Kiwis to 2-2 in reply to 335, but as has been the way in a series of ebbs and flows, Ross Taylor produced one of the great limited overs innings to eventually drag the hosts over the line.
Taylor cut, pulled, punched and muscled his way to a magnificent 181 not out from 147 balls, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact he was reduced to limping between the wickets having gone down injured shortly after passing his century.
It was an astonishing effort from Taylor, who missed the previous game through injury, and the hosts will be praying he can recover in time to take the field in the final game.
His absence would be a huge loss to the Kiwis whose batting has relied heavily upon him and captain Kane Williamson, though England will be frustrated not to have closed out the series already given how much more consistently their own batting line up has performed.
Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, both centurions in Dunedin, have enjoyed fruitful series’ while Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Eoin Morgan have all made notable contributions at times.
Root, who was tipped up in the series preview here a couple of weeks ago, currently tops the runs charts for England and hopefully the Yorkshireman can maintain his excellent form with another sizeable contribution.
The bowling, led by Chris Woakes and the excellent Tom Curran, has coped with Liam Plunkett’s absence reasonably well, though Morgan will be hoping for more potency from Adil Rashid and Mark Wood in Christchurch.
Curran was a 9/2 winner for this column on Tuesday and looks worth siding with for top England bowler honours again, this time at 4/1. His subtle changes of pace and seemingly nerveless character has seen Morgan entrust him in the key death overs and he should create plenty of chances again on Friday.
England are 4/5 to prevail and considering they have looked the stronger team for much of the series - and with Taylor a doubtful starter - that makes plenty of appeal for those looking for a late outright interest.
However, at a bigger price, Ish Sodhi is worth an investment in the top New Zealand bowler market.
Sodhi was surprisingly left out of the second match but has returned with a bang, taking 3/53 and 4/58 in the last two games, obliging in this market on both occasions and comfortably proving the most dangerous of the home attack.
His impressive series numbers now read nine wickets at an average of 19.33 and given England’s history against leg-spin bowling, he looks overpriced at odds of 4/1.
Man in focus
Adil Rashid came into this series with an enhanced reputation but also under a slight cloud of controversy following his recent decision not to play any red-ball cricket in the near future.
His call has brought about severe criticism from some parts but Rashid’s performances in this form of the game over the past couple of years have been superb, taking 36 wickets at an average of 26.97 since the start of 2017.
However, while he has bowled with control, Rashid has struggled to make the key breakthroughs in this series that has made him such a valuable asset for Eoin Morgan in the middle overs.
Three wickets at 65.00 is a disappointing return and he will be desperate to make a significant contribution in the final game.
Posted at 1540 GMT on 07/03/18.