Tri-series final: New Zealand vs Australia Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the Tri-Series final between New Zealand and Australia which gets underway in Auckland on Wednesday 21 February. 

Undefeated in four matches, Australia head into a final against a New Zealand outfit that won just one match - at a venue expected to produce another high-scoring thriller.

They were at Eden Park less than a week ago, when the batsmen loved the conditions and the bowlers dropped their heads left, right and centre. A similarly lopsided contest between bat and ball is expected this time, too.

New Zealand v Australia | Wednesday, 21 February | Eden Park, Auckland | 8:00
 
To Win Match
New Zealand 29/20
Tie 35/1 
Australia 57/100

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New Zealand
The Black Caps were defeated twice by the Aussies in the round-robin stage of the trans-Tasman series and, in fact, have only beaten them once in eight attempts across the shortest format in international cricket overall. History and the odds are, indeed, stacked against the hosts - but their opposition might have peaked too soon.

They've got the tournament's leading run-scorer in their ranks, Martin Guptill, who struck a brisk century at this venue last week. Guptill will look to take advantage of the short boundaries again, but will be acutely aware of the Australian bowlers' bid to correct what they got wrong last time. He can expect substantially more slower balls and shorter lengths.

The Kiwis might want to go with the same attack that faced England in the penultimate fixture, too. Taking the pace off the ball was evidently key, leaving the retention of Mitchell Santner likely instead of the recall of Ben Wheeler. Santner might not open the bowling again, but he'll certainly come into play after the mandatory opening powerplay.

While David Warner's advances are less of a worry recently, the home side will fix the bulk of their focus on successfully combating Aaron Finch, D'arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell, before or after trusting their batsmen go just a little bit bigger than they did against Australia in their previous encounter. A score of 250-plus from the team batting first seems required.

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Australia
First and foremost, the head-to-head battle within the war between Trent Boult and Andrew Tye for the plaudits bestowed on the tournament's leading wicket-taker should provide plenty of entertainment. Tye's trademark 'knuckle ball' against Southee's nagging lines and lengths will make for a superb display of T20I bowling.

Maxwell and Short have consistently stepped up for the tourists, but they'd like to see more from Warner and Chris Lynn in particular. The pair have been okay, but not spectacular. Now is the time for them to deliver on their big-name billing - and justify the faith shown in them ahead of plenty of other pretenders at domestic and fringe international level.

Australia's last three T20I victories over New Zealand have come batting second, so they will be hard pressed to conjure more success if defeated at the toss and the Kiwis bowl first. Despite last week's shortcomings in Auckland, Southee and company will have reviewed their misgivings and know exactly what correction is required.

This match might not be the opportune time to experiment, but promoting Marcus Stoinis up the order would not be untoward. He announced his arrival on the international stage with a magnificent ODI century against the New Zealanders here a bit more than a year ago - and could prove pretty effective with the ball as well.
 
Verdict: Australia 57/100
The tourists shouldn't have peaked too soon - and should be able to replicate enough of what they put together at the same venue last time to romp to title triumph.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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