Tri-series: New Zealand v Australia Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

We preview the tri-series clash between New Zealand and Australia set to take place on Friday 16 February at Eden Park. 

The Black Caps are still jostling for a position in the final, while the Aussies have already qualified. Victory for the hosts, then, would go a long way in ousting England.

The Australians haven't a lost a match in this trans-Tasman tournament, but won't want to peak too soon. Defeat might hamper momentum - or serve as a timely wake-up call.
 
New Zealand v Australia | Friday 16 February | Eden Park, Auckland | 8:00
 
To Win Match
New Zealand 27/20
Tie 35/1
Australia 62/100

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New Zealand
The Kiwis hadn't played a match in 10 days prior to Tuesday's win over England, but any doubts over them possibly being ring rusty were quickly quashed on the back of strong performances from Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and others. Williamson went a long way, too, in quietening talk from some pundits that he shouldn't be playing T20I cricket - and later insisted he's good to go for all formats.

Boult will be a key weapon with the new ball. He bowled a couple of venomous, in-swinging yorkers against the English - and would love to find similar lateral movement and lethal length against Aaron Finch and company. The Australian batsman, of course, can look to counter this by batting deeper in their crease - and therefore have more time to counter the swing and pace.

Colin Munro's form is a bit of a concern. The hard-hitting opener has managed just 14 runs in his last three T20I innings. He has a burgeoning role to play with the ball, though, particularly if spinner Mitchell Santner opens the bowling alongside Boult - and Ish Sodhi has another bad day outside of the opening powerplay.

New Zealand's willingness to blood Tim Seifert and Mark Chapman in a must-win situation spoke volumes of their ongoing ambition to experiment - and it's this approach that could catch a solid, but rather predictable, Australian outfit off guard. They've lost five of their seven T20Is against the Aussies over the years, so there is an evident imbalance that requires levelling.

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Australia
The Aussies have only played one T20I at this venue - that was the inaugural edition of the shortest format in 2005. More than a dozen years later, they're primed for more of the same, but will require more than a standout performance from one batsman and one bowler to go all the way. A complete all-round performance, indeed, is in high demand.

Their focus is slowly starting to turn to the Test tour of South Africa, but the immediate task is this match - and the final. The stand-in T20I captaincy, in the absence of Steven Smith, seems to be negatively affecting David Warner. He's managed a mere 12 runs in this series. Hopefully, this lack of significant contribution won't spill over into the longer formats.

Marcus Stoinis will be expecting a lot of himself. A little more than a year ago, he announced his arrival on the international stage with a hefty 146 not out in an ODI losing cause against the Kiwis. Returning to the same venue, albeit for a different format, he'll want to make sure that what he delivers results in victory this time around.

The visiting seamers will be in steep competition with their Kiwi counterparts. Boult and Tim Southee make for a marvelous combination, while Billy Stanlake and Kane Richardson are great individuals, but not a notable pairing by any means. Perhaps it's time to get Ben Dwarshuis in action alongside Andrew Tye, too.

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Verdict: Australia 62/100
To reiterate, the tourists don't want to win their final round-robin fixture and then lose the final, but they'll take another victory as a building block toward their final goal. 

Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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