Australia vs New Zealand | 27 November - 1 December | Adelaide Oval | Adelaide | 05:15
All eyes will be on the pink ball at the Adelaide Oval come Friday when Australia and New Zealand take to the field for the first ever Test match to be played under lights, much to the horror of purists across the world.
Finding themselves 1-0 down in three-match series, the Black Caps will be desperate to leave Adelaide having leveled the series.
To Win Match
New Zealand 7/2
The Aussies will head into the third and final Test without the services of their former premier quick, Mitchell Johnson, who announced his retirement during the second match at the WACA. The Aussie slinger had been on a steady decline since that summer in which he absolutely tore through England and South Africa with a terrifying blend of ferocious pace and machine-like control. He’s the second premier Australian quick to retire this year after a recurring knee injury forced Ryan Harris to quit the game in build-up to Australia’s unsuccessful defence of the Ashes.
Johnson’s retirement will likely mean that Peter Siddle earns a recall to the side. Perhaps not considered as venomous as the likes of Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson; Siddle is a workhorse who grafts for the team in some of the more difficult spells when there’s very little swing or bounce on offer. Even without Johnson, however, the Aussie management will be confident that their quicks, along with off-spinner Nathan Lyon, can get the business done against a fragile New Zealand top order.
Heading into this match, Australia will be more than happy with their own top order who have all made excellent contributions. Joe Burns, Dave Warner, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges and Steve Smith have all notched up centuries in the first two Tests, taking the Aussies to massive totals in the process. In four innings, these five players have managed to score an incredible 1558 runs.
Because the top order have done all of the work with the bat leading up to the third Test, the Australian lower-order haven’t had to deal with any real pressure situations – something that will be of slight concern to Darren Lehman and the Australian management. If the top five fail to deliver, the likes of Mitchell Marsh, Phil Nevill and Starc will need to step up to the plate - whether or not they'll be able to do is an entirely different story..
The Australian team for the third Test shouldn’t differ too much from the 11 that earned a hard-fought draw in Perth last time out. The only change will likely see Siddle coming in for the newly-retired Johnson. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the attack handles the evening conditions and the pink ball.
Starc, who will lead the attack in the absence of Johnson, isn’t too keen on the pink ball. The Aussie quick bagged an astonishing 15 wickets with the pink ball in just two Sheffield Shield matches earlier this year, however, he remains unconvinced. In an interview in June, Starc had this to say “I’m yet to be convinced. It’s definitely not a red ball. It doesn’t react anything like the red ball, in terms of swing and the hardness of it. It goes soft pretty quickly. I didn’t see a huge amount of reverse swing and I don’t think it swung too much from memory until the artificial light took over.”
Whether or not Starc can repeat the heroics of those two game remains to be seen, however, one does feel that if are Australia are going to win this match, the New South Wales quick will have a pivotal role to play.
If AB de Villiers is the most destructive batsman in the world at the moment, then Kane Williamson is definitely the most elegant. The New Zealander has seen his stock rise meteorically in the last few years, drawing plaudits from all corners of the world. He has been at his brilliant best in this series, scoring two centuries as well as a half-century in two matches. If the Black Caps are to have any chance of leveling the three-match series, they’ll need another big performance from their star batsman.
There are two main concerns facing the New Zealand management team heading into the third Test – an opening pair who haven’t made any meaningful contributions in the first two matches and a bowling attack that has struggled to transfer pressure back onto the Australian batsmen.
Tom Latham and Martin Guptill have been well below par thus far, regularly getting starts but failing to kick on and claim bigger scores. At least one of the two will need step up to the plate in the final Test to anchor the innings. An out of form opening pair can have huge ramifications on the rest of the middle and lower order. The two will have to set a decent platform from which the likes of Williamson, Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor can build upon. This is where Australia have been so successful, particularly in the first test where Voges and Warner essentially put the game out of the New Zealanders’ reach.
The other headache Mike Hesson faces is the lack of venom shown by his much-hyped pace attack. Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Dougie Bracewell have all been routinely dismantled by the Australian top order, putting enormous pressure on their sole specialist spinner, Mark Craig.
Craig has also struggled to stem the flow of runs from one end, regularly missing his lines and lengths while the quicks toil at the other. The off-spinner hasn’t yet managed to keep his economy rate below 4.5 in the four innings he’s bowled in the series thus far, even on the dry Gabba surface that should really have seen him be more effective.
The bowling unit will have worked hard on a plan to transfer the pressure back onto the Australians. If they fail to do so, they may well be stuck out in the field for extended periods of time while the likes of Warner, Voges, Khawaja and Smith pile on the runs.
The Adelaide Oval will play host to this historic third Trans-Tasman Test Although there isn’t much news about the state of the wicket, the outfield has recovered well after hosting an AC/DC concert last Saturday.
The venue and the wicket won’t be in the spotlight as much as the lights and the ball will be. A hard, abrasive surface will accelerate the softening of the pink ball, making it difficult to extract bounce for the bowlers. There should definitely be a bit of swing later on in the evenings though, once the lights begin to take effect.
Verdict: Dave Warner Top First Innings Batsman for Australia
This is actually quite a tough one to call. With both teams playing in their first day-night Test, there really isn’t much data to go on here. However, with that being said, many of the Australian players would have had an opportunity to playe with the pink ball in the Sheffield Shield earlier in the year.
I think the Aussies will win this one, although they don’t offer much value at 6/10. Instead, take Dave Warner - who has been in imperious form during the series - to be the Top Australia First Innings Batsman at 11/4.