England takes on New Zealand in the second Test of a two-match series on Thursday, June 10, at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham.
The first Test ended in a draw after the third day's play got washed out. However, it was by no means a dull contest, with both teams having some brilliant individual performances.
New Zealand handed a Test debut to Devon Conway, who had made a splash in limited-overs cricket.
The southpaw grabbed the opportunity with both hands and broke plenty of records en route to his 347-ball 200 at the home of cricket. Tim Southee picked up six wickets in England's first innings with the bat.
Rory Burns shook off the failures of the Indian tour with a gritty 297-ball 129 to rescue England from 140/6, with them requiring 378 runs to lead. His opening partner Dominic Sibley was rock solid in the second innings, with England playing for a draw.
England also handed a debut to seam bowling all-rounder Ollie Robinson. While he made a terrific debut, picking up seven wickets and scoring 42 runs with the bat, he landed himself in trouble over racist and sexist tweets he made eight years ago.
The ECB has since suspended him from all international cricket pending investigation. Critics have had a mixed response about the suspension, with many coming in support of Robinson, who duly apologized after the end of the first day's play.
While New Zealand could rest some of their key players to keep them fresh ahead of the WTC final that starts on June 18, England could provide opportunities to some other players in their squad, keeping in line with their rotation policy.
England also added Dominic Bess to their squad as a backup spin-bowling option.
Ultimately, the third day getting washed out robbed the match of a result, but it nevertheless saw some high-octane cricketing action.
One could expect a similar level of quality when both these sides lock horns in Birmingham four days later.
Date: June 10-14, 2021 (Thursday-Monday).
Time: 11:00 AM (Local/ BST), 3:30 PM (IST), and 10:00 AM (GMT).
Venue: Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham.
The second Test shouldn't see many interruptions due to rain, with just a minimal chance of showers on Day One and Day Five. The weather should be pleasant, with an average temperature of 23 degrees celsius.
The wicket at Edgbaston should be bowler-friendly, with the seamers likely to be assisted throughout the game.
Batters need to survive the new ball phase before thinking about scoring runs, though the decent carry could help them once they get set.
Spinners should come into play in the second innings as the pitch gets more worn out.
England could make some changes following Robinson's suspension, and one of Olly Stone and Craig Overton should take his place. Jack Leach should also return to the side with either Mark Wood or James Anderson making way.
The Black Caps should rest some key players ahead of the WTC final. Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson could make way for Doug Bracewell and Matt Henry. Spinner Ajaz Patel should make his return to the side.
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson(C), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling(WK), Mitchell Santner/ Colin De Grandhomme, Kyle Jamieson/ Doug Bracewell, Ajaz Patel, Matt Henry/ Tim Southee, and Neil Wagner.
The bowler-friendly conditions and the lack of proper application from some batters of both teams make it likely for the second Test to get a result.
The likes of Williamson and Ross Taylor will want to regain their form ahead of the WTC final, and the experience of the New Zealand batters could give them the edge in this game.
Prediction: New Zealand to win.
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