2019 Cricket World Cup’s runners-up New Zealand, who whitewashed India in the three-match ODI series this year, are set to play on Australian soil, where they never have won any limited-over series (a series of more than a match).
Last time, the Black Caps had travelled across the Tasman Sea to play an ODI series in 2016 they were blanked 0-3 by the hosts. Even in the Test series, the Kane Williamson-led side were thrashed 0-3 in December-January (2019-20).
After three years, the Kiwis will play an ODI series in Australia and would be desiring to lift their first bilateral trophy in the host country, while the Aussies would leave no stone unturned to win their first series of the year.
The World Cup runners up have had a good run in the limited-overs format since last year. Since January 2019, New Zealand have won 66% of their total matches, taking second place in the list after the World Cup winners England (60%), while Australia have won 58% of their total matches.
In their last ODI series, both sides have faced contrasting results. New Zealand gave India a hiding 3-0 in the ODI series, while Australia suffered a 0-3 whitewash against South Africa, after losing at the hands of India 1-2 in January this year.
While the top order of Australia is packed with match winners, their middle-order crunch has led to their losses in all those matches to an extent.
Their top-order (1-3) is studded with the proficient David Warner, Aaron Finch, and Steve Smith. The Test sensation and now the number four, Marnus Labuschagne has also proved his mettle by making at least a 40+ score (including a century and a half-century) in the last five out of six innings. But overall the Aussie middle-order has been their weakest point as compared to New Zealand.
The Kiwi middle-order batsmen have averaged 39.3 since 2019 while Australia’s batting average in the middle order has been 34.4.
South Africa (45.3), England (44) and India (40.1) are the countries with the best batting averages among the top ten countries.
After scoring an unbeaten match-winning hundred in Mumbai where Australia chased a target of 255 against India in the 38th over without losing a wicket, Australia’s star opener Warner has not made more than 40 in his last five innings.
Warner has a habit of reversing his form on home soil which was witnessed after the dismal Ashes in 2019. Skipper Finch needs to defend himself from New Zealand’s pace sensation Trent Boult, who has dismissed Finch four times out of eight meetings. Finch’ average against Boult has been just 7.8.
Since the start of 2019, Australia have experimented with thirteen batsmen in the middle-order (4-7) in ODIs.
The number four spot has now been grabbed by Labuschagne. Alex Carey has proved himself as a finisher at number 7 on some occasions and scored crucial runs in that position even during the 2019 World Cup. Australia tried Carey at number 5 and 6, but it did not work.
On the other hand, New Zealand have a great unit from numbers 1 to 5. In the last three ODI matches, their openers have provided the groundwork by building 80+ runs partnership.
Their skipper Williamson and Ross Taylor have snatched the proverbial victory from the jaw of defeats on many occasions. Williamson could not play the last two ODIs of the three-match series against India due to an injury.
Taylor batted at an average of 194, smashing a century and a half-century to help the Kiwis win the series against India this year. Tom Latham also supported the top-order in all the three matches averaging 54.
Australia bowlers will have to break the initial partnerships by the Kiwi batsmen to restrict them from scoring a mammoth total. However, this is not an easy task for the Aussie pacers, who have struck every 60 deliveries in the powerplay in the last 6 matches. Mitchell Starc is the only pacer to grab three wickets in the last five innings in the powerplay.
On the other hand, New Zealand’s strike-rate in the powerplay is much better than Australia. They took a wicket every 25.7 deliveries in the last three innings. Kyle Jamieson has the best economy rate (3.8) in the powerplay. He also has taken a wicket every 24 deliveries.
Since the start of 2019, New Zealand pacers’ strike-rate in the powerplay has been the best among the top ten countries. They have taken a wicket every 34.1 deliveries. While Australia pacers grabbed a wicket every 48.7 deliveries.
For this series, both the teams will be donning their lucky jerseys. New Zealand will be using their retro kit that was used, when they had won their first and only ICC tournament at the ICC Knockout Trophy in Kenya in 2000, while Australia will go with a retro kit that they had donned during the triumphant campaign at the 1999 World Cup in England.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch (c), Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Alex Carey, Mitch Marsh, D’Arcy Short, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Henry Nicholls, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult