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Cricket: England backed for revenge.

Byline: By Max Oram

NEW ZEALAND did bookmakers a massive favour by beating England by 34 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method in Christchurch yesterday to take the five-match ODI series 3-1.

Paul Collingwood's 50-over Three Lions outfit had been backed to 1-2 from 10-11 with Hills to win the series after strolling home in the two Twenty20 games that preceded it.

And it looks like the layers will be wanting more help from the Black Caps in the five-day format.

Punters have not been put off backing the tourists, who will be skippered by Michael Vaughan, for the three-Test series that begins on March 4 (9.30pm the night before UK time).

England are a best-price 4-5, with VCbet and Ladbrokes already report notable liabilities.

Ladbrokes spokesman Robin Hutchison said: "Michael Vaughan's men have been backed in to 8-11 from an opening show of 13-8. Hope springs eternal as far as cricket punters are concerned and we already have a five-figure liability on England."

Yesterday, after fighting displays in Auckland and Napier, England reverted to the sluggishness with the bat, sloppiness in the field and waywardness with the ball that had characterised their comprehensive defeats in Wellington and Hamilton.

Only late blitzes from Luke Wright, who top-scored with 47 at a whopping 25-1 with Betdirect and Stan James, and Dimitri Mascarenhas gave them a total to defend while Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum blazed away from the off with 77 to top-score for a third time in the series. He was a 4-1 shot.

Steve Harmison has a back strain, so Chris Tremlett has been called-up as cover to England's Test squad.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Feb 24, 2008
Words:271
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