Three years since last facing each other in a Twenty20, New Zealand and Australia will do battle in a five-match series.
New Zealand v Australia, first T20I
Hagley Oval, Christchurch
Monday, 22 February, 7pm local
History suggests it is a series that will see plenty of runs.
The last T20I series these two teams contested saw Australia pull off a T20I record chase of 244 at Eden Park. Further to that, in the past three years Australia has scored at a run-rate of 9.05 per over in T20I cricket and New Zealand 8.77. Only England (9.19) has scored more quickly in that time.
For both teams, the series shapes as a key chance to prepare for the ICC T20 World Cup, set to be played in India later this year.
How they’ve each approached that opportunity differs.
The Black Caps have gone with a tried and trusted squad, bedding in players before the big tournament. Australia, on the other hand, has mixed an experienced core group of players with a handful of young up and comers.
New Zealand’s settled squad for the series is headlined by captain Kane Williamson, who is joined by veterans Martin Guptill (pending a fitness test), Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
Southee currently sits at a career best ICC T20I bowling ranking of seventh and is one of three players in the New Zealand squad in the top 10 for their respective skills. Tim Seifert sits ninth on the batting rankings and Mitchell Santner ninth among bowlers.
Australia opted against calling up cross-format stars David Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc after the postponement of their tour of South Africa. Nevertheless, their squad is brimming with quality.
Captain Aaron Finch (third) and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell (fifth) both occupy spots in the ICC’s top 10 batting rankings. Spinners Adam Zampa (fifth) and Ashton Agar (sixth) are the same for bowlers.
They are joined in New Zealand by rising stars like Josh Philippe, Tanveer Sangha and Riley Meredith, who are all hoping to make their international debuts.
Fixtures (all times local)
Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Finn Allen (on stand-by for Guptill)
Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Remember last time?
Last time these two teams met in this format, Australia beat New Zealand to claim the Trans-Tasman T20 tri-series trophy.
The two sides edged England out to face one another in the final.
The decider was a rain-affected match that Australia won by 19 runs via DLS. That rounded out a perfect campaign for Australia, winning all five matches they played.
The best of those wins came in their final group game, where they successfully chased down a T20I target of 244 against New Zealand. It remains the biggest successful run chase in T20I history.
Look out for
Kane Williamson: New Zealand’s batting order is jam-packed with power but it is the ethereal Williamson who ties it all together and he is the man Australia will most want to remove.
The Black Caps skipper has averaged 54.50 across his past two years in T20I cricket, passing 50 in three of his five innings in that time.
The runs have come quickly too, with his strike rate sitting at 155.71 in that period.
Glenn Maxwell: Maxwell was unstoppable last time these two teams played in the same series, smashing 233 runs at 116.50 with a strike rate of 166.42.
He’s had a lean 12 months in the format (111 runs at 18.50, strike rate of 133.73), but he has always enjoyed himself against New Zealand.
The right-hander averages 56.50 against the Black Caps, with a strike rate of 143.03.