England could miss out on the services of wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler, who has tweaked his back in the gym ahead of the must-win Test against New Zealand. Buttler is the sole regular wicketkeeping option for the visitors on the tour and if he misses out Ollie Pope will be keeping the wickets in the Test match. He has an experience of keeping wickets in first-class cricket but Pope is himself a sort of a newcomer in the team.
After playing two Tests against India last year, Pope was dropped. He did make a comeback during Ashes but got his first chance in the opening Test against Kiwis at Bay Oval.
Zak Crawley, the second reserve-opener in the squad, will walk into playing XI in the absence of Buttler. He had scored a century in the practice match against New Zealand XI before the Test series.
England are expected to retain other members of the squad who played the first Test. For New Zealand, they are confirmed to have two forced changes. Both Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme have been ruled out due to respective injuries.
Daryl Mitchell will replace Grandhomme. He played the practice match for New Zealand A against England. In 67 first-class matches, Mitchell has 3494 runs and 61 wickets.
A call on Boult’s replacement will be taken at the toss but Matt Henry holds an edge over Lockie Ferguson. NewZealand are looking to prevent him for Australia tour and he is likely to make his Test debut next month. Ferguson was released to play domestic cricket during the first Test.
The home team is leading the series 1-0 and will be the favourite in the second Test. After losing the T20I series on Super Over, New Zealand made a comeback and registered an innings and 65 runs win over Joe Root and co. Responding to England’s first innings total of 353, NZ scored 615 and dismissed visitors for 197 in their second innings.