Cricket: New Zealand vs. England
New Zealand is in a bit of a crisis. Although their ODI series against England is tied 1-1, they were well beaten last time out at the Bay Oval, and ahead of Game 3 in Wellington on Friday (8 p.m. ET in U.S.) their senior players are dropping like flies.
Kane Williamson, the skipper, missed Game 2 with a hamstring problem. Ross Taylor, one of the finest runscorers the country has produced and architect of their win in the first match, has a quad injury.
Few international teams can afford to lose two of their three best batsmen. Least of all New Zealand, an outfit always desperately trying to squeeze the most from a limited player pool. For what seems like years they have always been just one batsman short of finally winning a World Cup event.
If Williamson and Taylor are out of the Wellington match, they leave an almighty hole. England can hardly believe their luck. Punters who take the -154 with Bet Victor (green-listed bookmaker) might now be on to a very good thing indeed, despite the prohibitive odds. England is a cracking outfit these days and teams have to be at their best to take them on.
But the injury news gives us an edge in a market where the prices are bigger.
Without Williamson and Taylor, Martin Guptill is capable of taking the honor of Top New Zealand Runscorer by playing with one arm tied behind his back. Guptill is the third member of the Kiwis’ Holy Trinity. He is a fantastic opening batsman in the ODI format and top scorer in the whole tournament at the last World Cup. Indeed, when all three of them are fit and firing it can be quite the conundrum as to who to wager on.
At odds of +300 (William Hill, Ladbrokes and Bet Victor; green-listed bookmakers) Guptill has little to beat in Wellington. And it looks as though he is ready for a big one. His fifty at the Bay Oval was a warm-up.
Happily, he also has ground form at this venue. In 10 matches he has 399 runs, which puts him second on the all-time run list. It would be an understatement to say this place brings out the best in him and he feels at home.
In the World Cup we mentioned, he hit an astonishing 237 not out – the second-highest ODI score of all time – against West Indies in the quarterfinals. Feel-good factor much? He is also +900 with Coral and Ladbrokes (green-listed bookmakers) for Man Of The Match.