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02 Feb 2018

Australia vs New Zealand: First T20 squads, preview, and prediction

Picture Credit: NAPARAZZI

Overview 

England, Australia and New Zealand embark on a 7 match T20I tri-series with a very inexperienced Australian squad set to struggle against the big names of the other two teams. The first match is between Australia and New Zealand, with Smith and Finch unavailable. The latter has been rested ahead of a tour to South Africa whereas Finch is part of the squad but unfit. 

New Zealand will be playing a T20 in Australia for the first time since 2009, but the odds are in their given how the squads are shaping up. Can they begin the series with a win, or will Australia pull some surprises?

Squads 

New Zealand 

Kane Williamson (c), Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Tom Bruce, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Anaru Kitchen, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Ben Wheeler

Australia 

David Warner (c), Aaron Finch, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa

Where the teams Stand 

New Zealand 

One of New Zealand’s biggest selection dilemmas based on their recent performances against Pakistan is who will open with Martin Guptill? Munro struggled heavily in the first two T20s, despite the series taking place at home. He was dropped for the third one, with Williamson replacing him in the opening slot. If he does, Kitchen and Bruce will likely follow in the batting order based on precedent. With de Grandhomme, Taylor, and Blundell forming the rest of the order, New Zealand have some series issues regarding stability in the middle order. Taylor is the only reliable name amongst a sea of youngsters yet to prove their worth on the international level. It might be worth gambling on Munro to open, with Williamson at 3 and Taylor at 5. Munro is normally an explosive batsman who can be very handy in the opening slot, and if he comes good, New Zealand will quickly be in the drivers seat. 

Trent Boult will be a key determinant of the result for the Black Caps, given that he will be spearheading the bowling attack along with Southee. Mitchell Santner will most likely occupy the slot for slow bowlers, leaving one spot up for grabs. Wheeler, Sodhi, and Rance will all be vying for it, with Rance the most likely to win the race. de Grandhomme will be their fifth bowling option, forming a decently equipped bowling attack to take on an inexperienced Australian batting lineup. 

Australia 

Australia’s tour could not have gotten off to a worse start after news emerged that Finch will be missing the inaugural match of the tri-series. The batsman has been in sublime form in the ODI series, and Australia are severely lacking his experience in the rest of the squad. Consequently, D’Arcy Short is set to open the batting alongside David Warner, who will be captaining the squad in Smith’s absence. Lynn is another candidate for the opening slot. A T20 specialist, the right-hander thrives in the opening position, and it might be worth considering giving him the slot. Head, Maxwell, Stoinis, and Alex Carey are likely to form the rest of the batting order. Stoinis has been in good form as well, plundering runs against England albeit at a slightly slow rate. Head and Maxwell are unreliable, and their performances could heavily swing the match in Australia’s favor. The side is filled with T20 specialists, and one of them is bound to fire, but the extent is what will make the difference. 

The bowling is where Australia’s inexperience is especially an issue. Thankfully for the home side, some of them can also bat, with Agar and Dwarshius both capable of hitting the ball. The latter will have to compete with Zampa for a place, but his batting abilities might just make the difference this time. Richardson and Tye are certain to feature, with Stanlake also an option in the pace department. Both teams have several inexperienced players, and they will be the ones who will decide the outcome of the match. However, Australia are struggling with the issue far more than the Black Caps 

Prediction 

New Zealand win. The Australian batting lineup is filled with stars who rely on their bludgeoning power to clear the fence. If they perform, Australia will prove to be highly competitive, but if not, they do not possess the bowling attack to save themselves from a batting failure. New Zealand are much more balanced in both departments and look more likely to win.