England and New Zealand will lock horns on the one-day international stage for the first time since their wild, never-to-be-forgotten Cricket World Cup final more than four years ago.

This time, it is in the calmer surroundings of a four-match series serving as a warmup for the World Cup starting in India next month.

Still, there`s plenty riding on it. Just ask Harry Brook.

In a surprise and arguably premature selection, Brook, one of England`s most explosive batters, was left out of the provisional 15-man squad for the World Cup that was announced in mid-August. A preference for more versatile middle-order batters such as Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone was the reason given by selector Luke Wright.

How Brook has made the team`s leadership squirm.

In his next three innings, he has smashed a 42-ball 105 not out in The Hundred competition before an unbeaten 43 and then 67 in the first two matches of the Twenty20 series against New Zealand.

It came as little surprise that England white-ball coach Matthew Mott suddenly left the door open to last-minute changes to the World Cup squad. Brook was added on Wednesday to the group for the ODI series against New Zealand starting in Cardiff on Friday.

In theory, he has been drafted in as cover, with Jonny Bairstow a doubt with pain in his right shoulder sustained in the fourth T20 against New Zealand, won by the tourists to tie the series at 2-2.

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A couple of others might be sweating on World Cup places, too. Malan appears the most vulnerable of the specialist batters, while the form of allrounder Liam Livingstone, as big a hitter as Brook, but less reliable, has started to come under scrutiny.

Ben Stokes, who is back in the ODI team after reversing his decision to retire from the 50-over format, had some glowing words for Brook on Thursday, further enhancing his case for World Cup selection.

New Zealand doesn`t name its World Cup squad until Monday, and the team had good news this week when captain Kane Williamson was declared fit enough to be included after injuring his knee in the Indian Premier League.

Williamson has made sufficient progress in his recovery, although he may not be fit enough to play New Zealand`s first match of the tournament.

(With AP inputs)

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