Nottingham: Former England skipper Nasser Hussain feels New Zealand were "slightly undercooked" in the opening Test against England at Lord's and that they will come hard at the hosts in the second Test at Trent Bridge, adding that the three top-order batters — Alex Lees, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope — will have to play a fruitful innings in order to keep the tourists at bay.
All three top-order England batters were below-par in both innings at Lord's with only Crawley having a worthwhile score of 43 in the first innings, which led to a first-innings collapse as the hosts were bundled out for 141.
In the second innings too, the trio had a collective score of 39 and it was left to former skipper Joe Root (115 not out), Ben Stokes (54) and Ben Foakes (32 not out) to guide the team to a five-wicket win and take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.
On Friday, Hussain opined that England skipper Stokes "will need at least one of his top three to go big at Trent Bridge".
"They (England) should expect New Zealand, who were slightly undercooked, to come back hard over the next few days in Nottingham. Don't forget, they're the world champions. An obvious area for improvement is England's top three of Alex Lees, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope, though I would say we shouldn't get too down on them. After all, look at how New Zealand's much more experienced top order struggled at Lord's," said Hussain in his column for Daily Mail.
"It's also true that no one is expecting England to sort out all their problems overnight. Improvement, if it comes, will be gradual. But in each instance there's a slight issue to overcome, and there's no doubt all three (top-order batters) will feel more comfortable with a major innings behind them.
Hussain pointed out that in Lee's case he has continually got into the groove, then got out, with six scores between 20 and 31 in eight Test innings.