Australia have finally returned to their winning ways after claiming the Chappell-Hadlee series down in Canberra on Tuesday. It’s been a rough period over the past 4-5 months for Australian cricket, now Steve Smith finally has something to smile about with a series win against the Black Caps.
Like Ricky Ponting did so often for the Australian side, Steven Smith has led from the front with a star-studded 164 in Sydney followed by another brilliant cameo in Canberra to help his side bounce back from a pretty ordinary start to the summer. With David Warner coming off a century and Pat Cummins firing with the ball in the last match, this Australian ODI team is shaping to be a strong & inform line-up heading into the last game of the series. Despite losing both matches, New Zealand have looked competitive but seem to be lacking that firepower with the bat late in the innings and haven’t had a stand out performer with the ball either. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson have played their part, while James Neesham has performed well up the batting order in the absence of Ross Taylor.
The third & final ODI of the series will be played at the MCG, interestingly the last one-day International that was played here against India featured a man of the match performance from Glenn Maxwell who has been left on the bench for the first two games of the series. After a brutal knock from Mitchell Marsh who clobbered an unbeaten 76 in the last match, Maxwell may not even be used despite being named in the 13-man squad for the series. You’ll find that the MCG is a sensational batting wicket, although bowlers have been rewarded if they can hit a good length early in the innings. The last time these two sides met on this ground was the ICC World Cup 2015, fond memories for the Australians but not so for the Kiwis…..
Key players | Australia
“The Bull” has turned into a run scoring machine in every single format of the game, and his consistency makes him one of Australia’s biggest keys to winning. Warner’s 119 in Canberra the other day makes it his third century in his past five ODI’s, simply incredible for an opening batsmen of this modern era. An interesting fact about David Warner is that he averages just 21.75 in ODI’s at the MCG with just one fifty to his name. Don’t let that scare you off, there’s a first time for everything, in this case it’s a century for one of the most prolific ODI run scorers for Australia.
New Zealand have struggled to restrict Steve Smith to a sub-fifty score in the series, and although they have dismissed him in both innings he’s left a trail of destruction that has been costly for the visitors. The Australian captain has replicated that form he shown a couple years ago against South Africa with a stunning run with the willow in a ODI series, certainly a concerning factor that the New Zealand bowlers can’t find a consistent line to bowl to a man at the peak of his game.
The 22-year-old South Australian captain is stamping his authority in this Australian ODI outfit with two impressive half centuries in the series, although we are yet to see him go on and make the three-figures. It’s good to see an aggressive batsmen who’s not afraid to take on the bowlers every now and then, particularly with the stroke play Head manufactures provides for extreme entertainment. The real positive in Head’s game is that he’s looking to score, keeping the run rate ticking over and should be rewarded soon enough for his bold stroke play.
Key players | New Zealand
The only way New Zealand can come close to beating Australia on their home turf is if Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson can produce a blinder with the bat, more so Guptill who has a lethal strike rate when he gets going in this format. The 30-year-old Auckland batsmen has been New Zealand’s most consistent batsmen in the series, including a brilliant century in Sydney before he was dismissed by a pretty average delivery from Adam Zampa. Martin Guptill is currently second in the world for the highest ODI score in a match (237*), proving just how dangerous he can be at the top of the order.
You can’t help but feel for Kane Williamson who admitted that this was one of the more younger & inexperienced sides he’s led, and that’s certainly showing with very little contributions in the runs department. Renown for his elite batting talent, the New Zealand captain was dismissed cheaply in the first game, but like all good players he responded in Canberra with a well constructed 81 off 80 deliveries. It’s getting to the point where if Williamson is dismissed cheaply, New Zealand will come crashing down with him which is a concern.
As the Australians smacked the Kiwis all over the park in the second ODI, Tim Southee’s inclusion was probably much needed after he managed to pick up the crucial wickets of Steve Smith and Travis Head before things got out of hand. Their bowling attack ended up getting slaughtered for runs, with Henry, Boult and de Grandhomme getting spanked for 8.00+ runs an over. Southee was able to mix his pace up throughout his ten overs, going for the odd boundary and picking up 2-63.
Team News | Australia
Australia have to decide whether to give Glenn Maxwell a game or keep him sidelined, although it’s expected that Australia are going full strength which could mean an unchanged XI. If that is the case, Maxwell may have to wait even longer when Australia are set to play Sri Lanka in a T20 series after the Pakistan test series. Adam Zampa is a chance to return after sitting out the second ODI, although it’s uncertain who would make way for him.
Australia (possible) – 1. David Warner 2. Aaron Finch 3. Steve Smith (c) 4. Travis Head 5. George Bailey/Glenn Maxwell 6. Mitchell Marsh 7. Matthew Wade (wk) 8. James Faulkner 9. Mitchell Starc 10. Pat Cummins 11. Josh Hazlewood.
Team News | New Zealand
It’s been a disappointing series for Tom Latham, but he should keep his spot with no replacement opening batsman in the squad. Matt Henry went wicket-less in the second ODI and was expensive, opening the door for Lockie Ferguson who played the first match in Sydney. James Neesham was struck on the arm by a nasty delivery from Mitchell Starc and has been reportedly icing it over the past day or so. If he doesn’t recover in time for tomorrow, Henry Nicholls could be included as an extra specialist batsman.
New Zealand (possible) – 1. Tom Latham 2. Martin Guptill 3. Kane Williamson (c) 4. Jimmy Neesham/Henry Nicholls 5. Colin Munro 6. BJ Watling (wk) 7. Colin de Grandhomme 8. Mitchell Santner 9. Tim Southee 10 Lockie Ferguson 11. Trent Boult.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.