England and New Zealand contested the opening one-day international at Seddon Park last night in a manner suggesting they will reignite the rivalry built during the five-match thriller of 2015.
England won 3-2 in a series that produced a then-world record 3151 runs.
Little has changed in tempo, although England's 284 for eight was light by their standards. In 29 ODI innings batting first since the World Cup, they have passed 300 on 19 occasions.
The Black Caps reached the target with three wickets and four balls to spare.
Even the most biased fan must struggle to fathom how any matches in this series could be lop-sided, or worth anything less than the price of admission.
New Zealand have won nine straight ODIs, including three against the West Indies, five against Pakistan and the Hamilton extravaganza. They last lost – by six runs - in the series-deciding thriller against India at Kanpur in October.
England have won eight of their last 10 completed matches, including four each against the West Indies and Australia. Until yesterday, the one loss – by three wickets – was on January 26 against Australia at Adelaide.
Next, look at the balance of yesterday's sides.
The explosiveness of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow versus Colin Munro and Martin Guptill as openers; the experience of Joe Root and Eoin Morgan versus Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor as the 3-4 punch; the steady Tom Latham versus the mercurial Jos Buttler as wicketkeepers; the duels between pace bowling all-rounders Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Colin de Grandhomme, and spinning all-rounders Moeen Ali and Mitchell Santner; the leg spinning flair of Adil Rashid versus Ish Sodhi, the pace bowling prowess of David Willey and Tom Curran versus Tim Southee and Trent Boult. That leaves New Zealand specialist batsman Henry Nicholls as a point of difference in the XIs.
Obviously the lines above can blur depending on circumstance and designated roles such as batting or bowling in the opening powerplay or at the death, but they are nonetheless tantalising for the remaining four matches at Mt Maunganui, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch.
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