Australia v New Zealand World T20 preview – Match 17
Australia starts quest for elusive World T20 title against a New Zealand high on confidence after its opening win
17 March 2016 19:13
Australia is No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings and won a record fifth World Cup title in the 50-over format last year but is yet to conquer the World T20. It has made the final only once, in 2010 when it lost to England.
New Zealand is on a high after stunning India in the opening game of the Super 10 stage on Tuesday in Nagpur, but Steven Smith's side will take confidence from the fact that it defeated New Zealand in the final of the 50-over ICC World Cup 2015.
More significantly, Australia has a massive advantage over New Zealand in the head-to-head stats in the 20-over format, having won four of the five matches the two sides have played. Australia's only loss, in 2010, came in a Super Over.
Shane Watson, however, stressed that there was no guarantee of another win, especially after New Zealand's 47-run win over India.
"We are going to have to play very well because they are going to be very confident leading into this game," Watson told reporters in Dharamsala on the eve of the match.
Australia has been in mixed form coming into the tournament. It was whitewashed 3-0 by India in January but bounced back by defeating South Africa 2-1 in an away series.
The batting has been in good form, with Glenn Maxwell and David Warner among the runs against South Africa. A lot will depend on Maxwell in particular as he is expected to be the allrounder Australia needs in Indian conditions.
New Zealand, on the other hand, came into the tournament as underdogs and will look to continue its momentum after the stunning win in Nagpur. Its batsmen managed only 126 but the spinners – Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Nathan McCullum – shared nine wickets among them to skittle out the host nation for just 79.
The pitch in Dharamsala is also expected to assist spinners and could leave New Zealand with a headache over whether to bring back pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee. Kane Williamson took some brave decisions by leaving out his frontline pacers against India for a spin-heavy attack and it would be interesting to see if the team management continues the strategy against Australia.
But for all this, the rain gods have to stay away from Dharamsala. Rain played a big part in the Group A matches held there last week, and the theme continued on Thursday, with the ground under covers once again.
"We haven't picked a team yet. We are waiting. We don't know what's going to happen with the weather," said Smith. "There are a few variables there so we are going to wait and see. We are not set on the team for each game. We could chop and change a bit. The guys have to be flexible throughout the tournament and I think it will take all fifteen of us if we have to win it."
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Martin Guptill, Grant Elliott, Colin Munro, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Adam Milne, Henry Nicholls, Luke Ronchi, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Australia: Steven Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa.Get live cricket scores and follow every ball of the ICC World Twenty20 with the official app