The heavily built Jonny Bairstow is wary of New Zealand's intent of avenging the heartbreaking loss in the controversial ICC World Cup final earlier this year. After that unforgettable cat-and-mouse affair, the teams will meet again for the T20I series opener in Christchurch tomorrow.
The exhilarating final that was decided on a tie after no result in the Super Over led to England's maiden World Cup win.
Thereafter, ICC received a backlash on the controversial rule and decided that if a match goes in a deadlock, then it will be decided on multiple super overs until a clear winner emerges in the knockout games.
After conquering the insurmountable at Lord's in July, England will renew their rivalry and Bairstow has made sure to rile up the nice guys by rubbing the bizarre events of the final on Kiwis' face. However, the attacking opener's own form is under the scanner after an unimpressive outing in the Ashes this year.
"What happened at Lord's is going to be quite tough for those guys, and there will be a fire in their belly and a hunger to put things right," Bairstow spiced things up on the eve of the first T20I.
New Zealand are playing down the notion, apparently paying no heed to Bairstow's platitudinous remarks and have stated their entire focus is on getting T20 World Cup preparations underway than dwell on the past.
Professional sports is filled with ebbs and flows and one should believe Black Caps now that more than 90 days have passed for them to get over the trauma.
"We obviously have a lot of T20 cricket on the horizon ahead of next year's World Cup and a tough five-game series against England should be a great start to the summer," coach Gary Stead said.
New Zealand will field without their regular captain and the batsman of crisis Kane Williamsson. In his absence, owing to his hip injury, Tim Southee will perform the leadership duties in the uncharacteristically long five-match T20I series.
Black Caps are lagging behind England in the T20 rankings, languishing at sixth spot whereas England have had a better run in the shortest format and are comfortably placed at the second spot behind table-toppers Pakistan.
This series will trigger the World Cup preparation for the hosts, who are set to face Australia, India, the West Indies, Bangladesh and Ireland before entering the marquee tournament in the familiar friendly territory of Australia.
England, on the other hand, are not stuck in the ecstasy and vow to avoid complacency with the start of this pivotal series. The touring party have rested their key players in a bid to test their bench strength.
The core of the team comprising Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Moeen Ali have been excused from the series post World Cup and Ashes.
This gives an opportunity to the new members to stake a claim for a place in the 2020 T20 World Cup squad. The likes of Tom Banton, Pat Brown, Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory and Matt Parkinson are going to face a stern test in the land of Kiwis.
Adil Rashid has been on the fringes after the premier competition and was forced to warm the bench while nursing the nagging shoulder injury. He is sanguine about getting back to his best in the T20Is.
Also, the go-getter opening batsman from England, Sam Billings, wasn't part of the ICC World Cup 2019 owing to a shoulder injury as well but the crocked wicket-keeper batsman has recovered from the jolt and has been appointed as vice-captain for this series.
Tim Southee (capt), Trent Boult (games 4 and 5), Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson (games 1-3), Martin Guptill, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner.
Eoin Morgan (capt), Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings, Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, James Vince.