Cricket - Match preview: New Zealand v England, Third Test

New Zealand v England, third Test of three-match series - Eden Gardens, Auckland: March 21-25, starting 21:30 UK time

Cricket - Match preview: New Zealand v England, Third Test

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Jonny Bairstow will replace Kevin Pietersen in the third Test against New Zealand


New Zealand have brought Doug Bracewell back into the squad, and after a lengthy stay in the field the Black Caps could be tempted to shuffle their bowling pack by including him. Spinner Bruce Martin could be the man to miss out.

England captain Alastair Cook has confirmed that Jonny Bairstow will deputise for the injured Kevin Pietersen, who misses the Test with a knee problem. Monty Panesar is likely to make the cut, although Cook has all-rounder Chris Woakes at his disposal if the pitch looks more receptive to spin.


New Zealand: 1 Peter Fulton, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Dean Brownlie, 6 Brendon McCullum (captain), 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Tim Southee, 9 Doug Bracewell, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult

England: 1 Alastair Cook (captain), 2 Nick Compton, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ian Bell, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Joe Root, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 James Anderson, 10 Steven Finn, 11 Monty Panesar


New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum: "The confidence within the group is building nicely, but there's also a realism that we will have to perform outstandingly well for five days. They stepped up on those previous two deciders, and we went missing, so this will be a good challenge to see if we've progressed as a team. There's an opportunity to create history, so we'll be turning our intentions to how we can best get ourselves in front."

England captain Alastair Cook on Kevin Pietersen's fitness: "It was done on a game by game basis. Before every game ... you do what you do with every player and assess them before every game. Clearly he felt, and we felt, he could get through those two games and this game might be a step too far. It has got progressively worse so we made the decision that he would now go home and it will be looked at."


Auckland's Eden Park hosts the deciding Test, and will feature the first drop-in pitch of the series. It hosted rugby only last weekend, but has since been prepared for cricket. The boundaries, especially down the ground, are very short, which may influence both captains when it comes to fielding spinners. Drop-in pitches are still something of a mystery, but the expectation is that there will be a bit more life in the pitch than there has been for the first two matches. The weather forecast is better too, with temperatures in the low 20s and plenty of sunshine in the forecast.


England win 7/10, New Zealand 5/1, Draw 3/1


1991-1992 - Three - England 2-0

1996-1997 - Three - England 2-0

2001-2002 - Three - Drawn 1-1

2007-2008 - Three - England 2-1

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