After a dominant win in the first game, the (relative) strength of Bangladesh's middle order came to the fore, with Shakib, Mushfiqur and Nasir Hossain each scoring two fifties in the match; while Robiul Islam continued his fine tour, taking 5/85 in the first innings. Zimbabwe only saw two contributions of note, 87 from Chingumbura and 110* from Hamilton Masakadza, leaving them 143 runs short. Nevertheless, they had the best of the two games overall and will be pleased to have recorded victories against a side that is on a (slow) upswing themselves. Brendan Taylor remains their only batsman of real class, but there is some talent in the bowling, and they are young. If they could only lower themselves to playing weaker opposition in order to get out on the park more often, we might see some of that talent develop.
England generally play well in New Zealand, and the lack of a positive result - unless escaping with a drawn series when deserving of a loss counts as a positive - was both a surprise and a potential sign of trouble in what remains a new era. Pietersen was missed, as perhaps, was Strauss's influence, even if his batting was well covered. Swann will return for this series, but otherwise England remain a slightly raw side, with a bowling lineup that has very good days, but a fair share of middling ones.
New Zealand have a young and promising bowling attack that allows them the opportunity to win if the batting can score enough runs. They did so at home, but, notwithstanding the similarity in conditions, it would be a real surprise if they can produce the same performance in England. A rain-induced draw, or an English victory by 9 wickets - as predicted - ought to be within their grasp though.
Ultimately, England survived the New Zealand leg because their batting depth makes them a hard side to bowl out. If the rain stays away, the sort of low-scoring early-summer series normally served up in May means this might again be a crucial factor. New Zealand have some decent batsmen of their own down the order and if we are lucky we'll see a pair of teams willing to scrap for small advantages.
Shaded teams have played fewer than 2 games per season. Non-test team ratings are not comparable to test ratings as they don't play each other.
Idle Summers 16th May, 2013 21:20:37 [#]