New Zealand face the heat to square series at Headingley

Playing on their home ground, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will look to impress with fine knocks at Headingley © Getty Images

By Abhijit Banare

Leeds: May 23, 2013

New Zealand are up against a tough task of leveling the two-match Test series after being beaten comprehensively at Lord’s. The injuries to BJ Watling and Bruce Martin will prompt skipper Brendon McCullum to make some changes for the second Test starting on Friday.

On the other hand England will be eager to pocket one more victory to boost their confidence. James Anderson led from the front in the first innings reaching the 300-wicket club and Stuart Broad ran through the Kiwi batting lineup in the second essay.

However, the only worrying factor for the second ranked Test side will be their batting. While overcast conditions at Lord’s along with a formidable New Zealand bowling kept them at bay, Alastair Cook will be well aware that his batsmen need to strike in time ahead of the Ashes which will test them to the core.

At the same time the Headingley crowd will be glad to see their two Yorkshire boys Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow play a noteworthy innings. The duo were top-scorers for England in the first innings at Lord’s. Root in particular has been in sublime form and much would be expected of him.

Ahead of playing on his home ground Root said, “It is amazing. It is great to have the opportunity to be here and I have loved every minute of it so far.”

“The (Headingley) wicket varies from game to game. This year quite a lot of runs have been scored on it so it will be interesting to see how it goes this week,” he added.

We want to win and we will definitely be going out there to do that. We want to prepare as best we can and hopefully we can get things right and start off well,”

If New Zealand harbour any hopes of disturbing the home side, they will have to come good with the bat on a relatively batsman-friendly wicket at Leeds. While the bowlers have posed plenty of questions, they have been let down by their batsman. Being bundled out for 68 — their second two-digit team total after a meek surrender against South Africa for 45 earlier this year — raises doubts over their ability against a strong bowling lineup. Peter Fulton and Ross Taylor at the top with Brendon McCullum in the middle-order will be the key to their batting fortunes in the second Test.

With a 1-0 lead in a two-match test series the side trailing will ideally try to come hard to win which makes the possibility of a result pretty high and going purely by performance England seem to hold the edge. Of the six encounters between the two teams on this ground, England holds the advantage 4-1 with one Test ending in a draw.

Teams:

England (Probable): Alastair Cook (c), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Matt Prior (wk), James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Steve Finn, Stuart Broad

New Zealand (Probable): Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (c & wk), Martin Guptill, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult

Time: 15:30 IST | 10:00 GMT

Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new everyday. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)