After battling back to secure victory in the recent one-day series with New Zealand, England will be confident of following up with a Test series win too.
At 1/2 to win the first match of the series, the Three Lions are understandably skinny, given their hosts’ abysmal recent record in Test cricket.
Indeed, 6/1 New Zealand have lost eight of their last 10 Test outings, with three of those defeats coming via the margin of a full innings.
Their home record is less than sparkling in recent years too, with just one win emanating from eight matches on their own turf within the past three years.
They have managed three draws in those fixtures, which could lead to a level of interest in the 5/2 about the stalemate in this opener meanwhile.
But better in the shorter form of the game, the home side will also be hampered by the omission of opening batsman Martin Guptil, who requires thumb surgery, and look best avoided to get anything out of this first test.
In contrast to their hosts, England will welcome the return of a star player, as Kevin Pietersen is set to add substance to an already-solid visiting batting line-up.
Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Joe Root all impressed at the crease during England’s 2-1 ODI series win, and supplemented by Pietersen, have the scope for further progression here.
Whilst each of the aforementioned, excluding Bell, haven’t performed as well in the tourists’ final warm-up match, England did post an impressive overall total of 357 runs at the expense of seven wickets at the end of the first day.
And they will head into the Test series with a buoyant bowling department also, the focal point of which will be record breaker James Anderson.
Having surpassed Sir Ian Botham’s all-time England wicket haul, Anderson is now in pursuit of his Test wicket total, and will be confident of edging closer against a side he posted 9/98 overall figures against when last facing them.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.