New Zealand v Australia Second ODI
Saturday February 6, 12:00pm
Australia will be looking to bounce back swiftly when they travel to Wellington to take on New Zealand in the Second ODI at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
The Black Caps will be buoyed by their comprehensive 159-run victory in the series opener at Eden Park, comfortably defending what looked an under-par score of 8/307. The explosive opening pair of Martin Guptill (90 off 76) and Brendon McCullum (44 off 29) blasted 71 off the first ten overs and with the help of youngster Henry Nicholls (61 off 67) they took the Kiwis to 3/203 off only 29 overs, setting the platform for a mammoth total.
However an underwhelming finish saw them score just 77 off the final 15 overs and Australia went into the innings break as warm favourites. That scenario was soon turned on its head, with New Zealand’s new ball pair of Trent Boult and Matt Henry reducing the visitors to 6/41 after nine overs, the first time Australia had lost six wickets inside the opening ten overs of an ODI innings. Despite some valiant hitting from the Australian lower order, the home side ran out comfortable winners as Boult and Henry finished with three wickets apiece.
No changes are expected for the Black Caps in Wellington, however they will be hoping to get more out of Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi with the finishing trio all somewhat out of touch in recent times.
Changes beckon for Australia with man of the moment Usman Khawaja a near-certain inclusion following their top-order capitulation on Wednesday. The World Champions have also lost key all-rounder James Faulkner to a hamstring injury, with Marcus Stoinis drafted in as his replacement.
After being left out of the starting XI at Eden Park both Scott Boland and Adam Zampa will also be hoping for a chance with Kane Richardson most likely to make way after going wicket-less in the opening game. Australia’s total of 148 in Auckland was their lowest completed innings in ODI cricket since January 2013 and the first time they have failed to reach 200 since being rolled for 151 at the same venue against the same opposition during last summer’s World Cup.
However the bowling is the chief concern for the visitors with Australia having conceded scores of 290 or greater in eight of their past nine ODIs. The loss of Faulkner won’t make things any easier, however John Hastings (1/39 off 10) will be hoping to continue his impressive form since being recalled to the side in the home series against India, while spearhead Josh Hazlewood will better for the run after conceding 68 in his ten overs in what was his first competitive match in over three weeks.
Wellington’s Westpac Stadium has seen plenty of runs of late with the last three first innings scores reading 6/393, 6/341 and 6/309. Whilst the 6/341 came in a World Cup game involving South Africa and the UAE, the 6/309 was chased down for the loss of only one wicket so bowlers can expect a tough time on Saturday. The home side also have an excellent record here, having won 11 of their past 13 ODIs.
Despite a first-up thumping Australia have retained favouritism for game two, with the Kiwis marginal outsiders. Given the manner of Australia’s defeat in Auckland, this comes as somewhat of a surprise and therefore the New Zealand price is certainly of interest.
The Black Caps are currently on a phenomenal run at home, having won 16 of their past 17 completed ODIs in New Zealand, while as previously mentioned they have a particularly strong record at Westpac Stadium. Also while Australia have retained the nucleus of the batting unit that powered them to a World Cup win, only Hazlewood remains amongst the frontline bowlers with the Australian attack consistently struggling to contain the opposition top-order. While he hasn’t been in supreme form, the loss of Faulkner will be keenly felt as he has been Australia’s foremost option in the death overs with both bat and ball while others have continually struggled around him.
Furthermore Australia’s form in this format has been somewhat overstated as while their recent series against India ended in a 4-1 victory, India went odds-on in every game and after losing all three matches in the T20I series the Aussies have now lost their past five limited overs fixtures. All things considered I just cannot make Australia favourites which is why I will be backing the Black Caps to go up 2-0 in Wellington and secure the series.