Australia’s death bowling and top order in focus on Dunedin’s T20I debut


New Zealand will hope for more from their top three but the middle order, led by Devon Conway, offers significant depth

Big Picture

Australia will need to rebound quickly in the second match of the series having been played off the park at Hagley Oval. It looked good at the start when they claimed three wickets inside the powerplay, but Devon Conway‘s masterful 99 lifted New Zealand to a hefty total and then they claimed four wickets inside the fielding restrictions.

The fact this fixture, which marks Dunedin’s first T20I, is a day game is likely to mean less of a fluctuation in conditions as the match plays out although if there is a chance of swing Tim Southee and Trent Boult are as good as anyone at finding it.

The Australians refused to use their two weeks of managed isolation as any excuse for the opening performance – they had been able to train to a high level in that period – but will hope that a proper match has allowed them to get into gear. The advantage of this being a five-game series is that there is a chance to bounce back.

Jhye Richardson’s return to international cricket was promising and Mitchell Marsh looked in decent form with the bat, but other than it was slim pickings from Christchurch. New Zealand will hope for a batter output from their top three, but the form of their middle order – led by Conway – means they have the depth and confidence to rebuild.

Form guide

(last five completed matches)

New Zealand WLWWW
Australia LWLLW

In the spotlight

Aaron Finch and Martin Guptill came into this series with question marks over their form and neither of them survived the first over of their respective innings. Both also fell in very similar style, driving catches to point, although for Finch placement was more the issue as he had struck the ball cleanly. They each have strong T20I records (Finch averages 37.06 and Guptill 31.20 with two centuries apiece) but with others pressing for a chance in the top order, or key players to return, a few runs would come in handy.

The swinging ball has long been an Achilles heel of Australian batting orders and while the day-time conditions in Dunedin may make it less of a factor it will be interesting to watch how they combat it should there be movement. T20 doesn’t give much time to show circumspection to the bowlers but there may need to be a little more watchfulness against Southee and Boult before catching up against the rest.

Team news

Mark Chapman and Hamish Bennett were the two unused squad members in the first game, but unless there are any niggles, or a desire to rotate, there wouldn’t seem a need to make changes.

New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Tim Seifert, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway, 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Kyle Jamieson, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult

Australia went with the extra allrounder (Daniel Sams) on Monday and may need to consider if it’s worth a specialist quick – perhaps left-arm Jason Behrendorff – instead. Despite the poor batting display changes, there are unlikely early in the series.

Australia (probable) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Josh Philippe, 3 Matthew Wade (wk), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Ashton Agar, 8 Jhye Richardson, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Jason Behrendorff

Pitch and conditions

With this being University Oval’s first T20I there is no history to go on, but the recent Super Smash gives an indication it could be high-scoring. Central Districts made 223 while in another match Northern Districts hit 191. The forecast is for a dry but cool day.

Stats and trivia


“Obviously the result didn’t go our way but we did a lot of good stuff, particularly early in the bowling innings. With our batting I think it was one of those things, New Zealand bowled really well and had the ball moving and caught us off guard a little bit.”
Daniel Sams

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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