Australia v New Zealand Third ODI
Friday December 9, 2:20pm AEDT
Having secured the series in Canberra on Tuesday, Australia will be looking to inflict a whitewash on New Zealand when they clash in the third ODI at the MCG on Friday.
A brutal batting performance from the hosts lead them to a comfortable victory at Manuka Oval after Kiwi captain Kane Williamson surprisingly elected to field first at the toss. Opener David Warner lead the way with a typically powerful 119 off 115 balls and together with captain Steve Smith (72 off 76) built the platform for the destruction that followed with a clinical stand of 145 off 143 balls.
Elevated to number four, Travis Head continued his purple patch with a thumping 57 off 32, before Mitchell Marsh completed the carnage with a ruinous knock of 76 off just 40 balls, including seven sixes, which catapulted the Aussies to a monstrous 5/378, their third-highest total in ODI cricket. After copping some punishment in the first ODI in Sydney, young quick Pat Cummins hit back with a career best 4/41, including the key scalps of Williamson and Martin Guptill as the Black Caps were dismissed for 262.
However the Australian bowlers didn’t have it all their own way with the returning James Faulkner conceding 69 off his 8.2 overs, while Marsh received some of his own medicine as he also leaked in excess of eight runs an over.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa is likely to come back into calculations in Melbourne with new ball duo Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood both a chance of being rested. However it remains to be seen whether the World Cup holders will squeeze unused all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright into the side with the middle-order performing so strongly.
The Black Caps were left to rue another expensive effort in the field as their death bowling once again came under severe duress, this time conceding 89 off the final six overs. Paceman Matt Henry bore the brunt of the suffering, relinquishing 91 off his 10 overs with Marsh dispatching the 12 balls he faced from Henry for 35.
Henry’s new-ball partner Trent Boult also had an uncharacteristically exorbitant day with the ball, with 80 coming from his ten overs, while all-rounders Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham combined for the unflattering figures of 1/86 off ten overs. Arguably the only bowler who could hold their head up high was returning quick Tim Southee who claimed 2/63 off his full allotment.
There were more promising signs in the chase with captain Kane Williamson compiling a stylish 81 off 80 balls, while Neesham somewhat made amends for his efforts in the field with an impressive 74 off 83 balls. However ultimately the Black Caps’ bowlers left their batsmen with too much to do and amid intense run rate pressure they lost their last six wickets for just 33, falling 116 runs shy of the hosts’ imposing target.
Henry’s nightmare in Canberra is likely to create another opportunity for raw quick Lockie Ferguson, while the Kiwis may also consider using batsman Henry Nicholls and leg-spinner Todd Astle for the first time in the series now that they are faced with a dead-rubber.
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Despite its size the MCG is yet another high-scoring ground with five of the last six first innings totals exceeding 290. If given a chance local boy Glenn Maxwell should find the surrounds to his liking, having scored 96 and 66 in his last two ODI digs at the ground.
- Although they have won their last six ODI series’ at home Australia have only executed a clean-sweep in one.
- Australia have won two of their past five ODI dead-rubbers.
- New Zealand have not failed to win a game in their last 12 ODI series’.
- New Zealand have won only one of their past five ODI dead-rubbers.
- New Zealand’s opening partnership has been dismissed in single figures in three of their past six ODIs.
Australia have retained strong favouritism for the clash with the market unconvinced that the Black Caps can avoid a whitewash.
Once again it’s difficult to mount an argument that Australia shouldn’t be even shorter given their dominance in the series so far, however there are a couple of factors that have kept me away from the price on offer. Firstly whilst the Aussies have been near unbeatable at home in this format, historically they have not shown the ruthlessness to execute clean-sweeps with a below par record in dead-rubbers. That may be because they tinker with their line-up which could well happen again here and while their bench strength is admirable the removal of key players would clearly impact their chances.
The Kiwis themselves don’t have a great record in dead-rubbers but they are a proud outfit who haven’t been swept aside without a singular victory for a number of years. Their batting has not really been given the opportunity to shine and their bowling attack is capable of far greater than what they have produced in Sydney and Canberra. They still have some way to go before they could be considered value, however it wouldn’t shock to see them trade decently shorter than starting price, especially if they bat first.
However one area where New Zealand have struggled for some time now is their opening partnership. In four of their past seven ODIs the opening partnership hasn’t reached 15 with the first wicket curtailed in single figures on three of those occasions. They have only outscored their opponents’ opening partnership in three of their last seven, averaging 28. Conversely in Australia’s last ten ODIs, the opening partnership has surpassed 60 on six occasions with an average close to 50.
Although Australia’s new ball attack could potentially be blunted by resting Starc or Hazlewood, they have enough potency in reserve to trouble New Zealand’s top two, and with Warner coming off a century I’ll be backing the hosts to have the superior opening partnership.
BACK – Australia Highest Opening Partnership at 1.65 or better for 1 unit.