New Zealand face day-night challenge as Australia series begins
Kane Williamson and Co. will have to quickly get back in the day/night cricket zone as they hope to win their first series in Australia after 30 years in the match in this week's opening test.
The fever of day/night matches will continue for Australia as they face New Zealand in the first of a three-Test series in Perth.
Kane Williamson and Co. will have to quickly get back in the day/night cricket zone as they hope to win their first series in Australia after 30 years in the match in this week’s opening test.
The visitors will be playing with no warm-up games in forecast 40 Celsius heat with a team which last week thrashed Pakistan in the same format by an innings and 48 runs in Adelaide.
Though the Kiwis have momentum from last week’s 1-0 series win against England, their last pink ball game under lights was nearly two ago against the same rivals in Auckland which could give them a problem on a much zippier track at Optus Stadium.
“The old day-night thing, eh. It’ll be interesting. It’s just another thing to adapt to, I suppose. Such is the international schedule — we fly out, have a little bit of training and are straight into another match. The perfect preparation? It’s always hard to know what that is,” captain and run machine Williamson told reporters.
New Zealand received some good news with all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme fit after tearing an abdominal muscle in the first Test against England last month.
Injured bowling spearhead Trent Boult also missed the second Test against England but has recovered sufficiently from a side strain to make the plane to Australia. He shapes up as a potential match-winner on a Perth pitch expected to offer pace and bounce, along with fellow quick bowlers Tim Southee and Neil Wagner. Their battle for supremacy with Australian fast bowling trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins could be crucial to the outcome.
Black Caps opener Tom Latham said the team was not scared of facing such a top-notch attack.
“I wouldn’t say (it’s) daunting, but it’s an exciting opportunity for us,” he told reporters in Perth.
“We’re lucky enough we have played most of their guys before, so we know what they bring.” Scorching hot weather is forecast for the first three days in Perth with Australia widely expected to field the same XI to the one that crushed Pakistan.
Tim Paine’s team has proven more consistent in recent months, having retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw in England before their 2-0 sweep against Pakistan.
David Warner, who made a monumental 335 not out in Adelaide, is in a rich vein of form, as is number three Marnus Labuschagne who has hit two big Test centuries in a row.
Fellow batting powerhouse Steve Smith pinpointed Williamson and Boult as the dangermen.
“He’s a quality player and hopefully we can keep him quiet this series. If he plays we will have to be very watchful,” he said of Williamson while noting Boult has “terrific skills and a great record”.
New Zealand have only won three of 31 Tests in Australia and have not claimed a series on the other side of the Tasman since 1985-86.
But Allan Border, who skippered Australia in that series defeat, said the Black Caps should not be underestimated.
“I rate them very highly … they’re scrappers. It definitely is their best chance to win a series since ’85 because they’ve got most bases covered as a team,”, said Border, now a commentator.
(With inputs from agencies)