March 13, 2020
Australia v New Zealand
Venue: SCG | Start: 2:30pm (AEDT)
Australia analysis: The upwards trajectory of Justin Langer’s side came crashing down in South Africa, humbled 3-0 by a side themselves on the decline. After a dominant display in the T20 series, a tired-looking Australian outfit struggled in all departments and have now lost seven of their last eight ODIs. In truth the series was hardly of utmost importance; the next World Cup is over three years away, games were played in the middle of the night in Australia, and it was against the backdrop of a huge Women’s T20 World Cup.
But none of that matters to Langer, who would be seething at the fact they’ve dropped the ball in the format. While he has admitted to T20 being a priority with the World Cup later this year, its little excuse for the poor returns. The gaping hole oppositions are currently exploiting is the middle order. While Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith and now Marnus Labuschagne make up a more-than-solid top four, positions 5-7 have delivered little. And with Glenn Maxwell still out injured this series, spots are up for grabs. “Everyone in the world is looking for it,” Langer said. “It’s a role that’s there for someone to grab hold of. No one at this stage has absolutely secured it.” With keeper Alex Carey assured of one spot, the Aussies will opt for two of: Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, D’Arcy Short and Ashton Agar. Numbers 8-11 will almost certainly be filled by three seamers plus Adam Zampa.
New Zealand analysis: By contrast with the Aussies, the Black Caps are coming off a 3-0 whitewash of India in the ODIs, a result which was then followed by a 2-0 Test win. In strong form, the vast majority of the squad that came within a bee’s you-know-what of winning last year’s World Cup should provide a stern test for the Aussies.
New Zealand were disappointingly poor in the Test series here two months ago, and will be desperate to atone for that 3-0 defeat. Most of that Test squad return, plus some white ball specialists including Jimmy Neesham and Ish Sodhi. One man who didn’t feature in that Test series but has made an enormous splash in international cricket since is Kyle Jamieson. The 6’8’’ quick was man-of-the-match in just his second Test match against India and could well be the bolter to feature in this series. He’ll have to contend with the returning Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry for spots, however, in the pace-heavy Kiwi squad.
Coach Gary Stead has said Australia are ‘benchmark for us to aspire to’ and dismissed the idea they were now vulnerable. “They have come off being beaten in South Africa, but all a lot of teams struggle away from home, and I guess no different for us, that’s going to be our biggest challenge.”
Betting: The Aussies have won three of their last four ODIs at the SCG, while the Black Caps haven’t beaten the home side there in their last four attempts. The pitch for last week’s Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final was a beauty considering the rain and with good weather in the lead-up to this one, we should see a belter. Look for Marnus Labuschagne to continue his good recent form and top the run chart for Australia in his first ever ODI on home soil. With the ball, Mitchell Starc might prove expensive on his return but should also continue to strike with wickets at the top or at the death. For the visitors, Ross Taylor averaged 194 in the series against India and is a strong chance to anchor the Black Caps’ innings. The in-form Tim Southee is the shrewd option with the ball, ahead of some others returning from injury.
Head to Head: Australia
Top Runs Scorer – Aust: Marnus Labuschagne
Most Wickets – Aust: Mitchell Starc
Top Runs Scorer – Opponent: Ross Taylor
Most Wickets – Opponent: Tim Southee