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New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor ran freely while completing some fitness drills on Friday, with the team to make a decision on his availability for Saturday’s series-deciding fifth one-day match against England just before the start of the game. The 34-year-old produced a match-winning unbeaten 181 in the fourth one-day international on Wednesday, despite having aggravated a thigh injury and suffering cramps that restricted his movement and forced him to limp singles in the successful run chase. Taylor, who had his left leg heavily strapped, however did not seem to be hampered as he completed a series of drills on Hagley Oval on Friday and a team spokesman told reporters the final decision would be made just before the toss on Saturday. The batsman’s inclusion for the Christchurch match would be a massive boost for New Zealand. He has scored 626 runs at an average of 89.42 in New Zealand’s one-day matches this summer with two centuries, three half centuries and three not out scores in the 40s. New Zealand batsman Tom Latham, who has combined with Taylor in match-winning partnerships in their two victories in the series, said the form the right-hander was in gave the whole side confidence.
“It’s obviously great to bat with someone like that with one, his experience, and two, the form he’s in,” Latham told reporters. “He’s hitting the ball pretty well. That innings the other day was something pretty special that you don’t get to see often.” Taylor and Latham’s 187-run partnership in the fourth game at Dunedin levelled the evenly-matched series at 2-2 and gave them an opportunity to end England’s impressive run of five successive victories in bilateral series. If New Zealand wins the series they would end their limited overs programme this summer having won 11 of their 13 games, including three against an England side who are fast looming as World Cup favourites on home soil next year. “It would obviously be very special (if we won the series),” Latham added. “They’re a great side. They’re a quality side that keeps coming throughout their whole innings. They’ve got a lot of all-rounders, and a lot of their roles are covered pretty much.”
New Zealand: Kane Williamson ©, Tom Latham (wk), Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Colin de Grandhomme, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Todd Astle, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Mark Chapman
England: Eoin Morgan ©, Jos Buttler (wk),Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Tom Curran, Mark Wood, Alex Hales, Sam Billings, David Willey, Craig Overton