Australia and New Zealand produced a cracking contest to get their ODI series underway on Tuesday and the two sides do battle in Cairns again on Thursday with the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy now on the line.
Australia edged their way home in that first game and now know that a win here will secure the series, the World Cup qualifying points and the Trophy. New Zealand need to find a win in this one to take the series to a deciding game.
Australia won the opening match of the series but they won’t be happy with the manner in which they won it. I get that professional sport is all about the result but these series tend to be a process towards whichever major competition is next in that format and I think the hosts will recognise that they look a long way off a World Cup winning side. They have a year to sort things out but you get the feeling the shelf life of one or two might be ready to expire.
The positive for Australia in that opening match was their bowling performance. They restricted a deep batting New Zealand outfit to a pretty low score in the circumstances. The negative was the batting display where with the exception of one partnership they were very poor. The worry will be that is two matches in a row where they have let themselves down with the bat after slumping to a shocking score in the final ODI against Zimbabwe. They need a convincing batting display for peace of mind as much as anything else.
I would imagine with the position that they got themselves into in that opening ODI, New Zealand will be gutted to have nothing to show for their efforts. They will know that having had Australia 44-5 in the chase of 233 they should really have won the match. They had their fish on the hook but couldn’t reel it in and they will need to be more ruthless if they are going to level the series here. To be fair to them, they were experiencing conditions for the first time which cuts them a little bit of slack.
New Zealand probably did have enough runs on the board but they won’t have been happy with their batting display in that opening game. There should be more to come from them now they have had a taste of conditions. The good thing though is they know they can get the better of the Australia batting and if they just show a little more ruthlessness when the game is there to be won there is no reason why they can’t level up the series.
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Australia batted very deep in the opening game and it was a good job they did but with Marnus Labuschagne getting a duck they might choose to pull him out and play either Sean Abbott or Ashton Agar.
Michael Bracewell only bowled three overs in the previous match even though a left-hander was at the crease for the majority of the Australian innings. If he isn’t going to bowl in those circumstances then New Zealand might think Glenn Phillips is the better option.
The toss was more pivotal in that opening game than I thought it might be and it puts me off getting involved in the match outcome here, although New Zealand certainly tempt me at the prices. However I’ve been burnt on them in the first match and I’m in no rush to end up in that position again. I don’t really want to be on Australia though because their batting is becoming more of a concern than you thought it would be.
I’ll go to the side markets for a bet on this match and that comes in the form of the performance of Alex Carey, a player who is actually in decent form with the bat unlike his teammates in the top order. He batted beautifully in the first game and deserved to be there at the end but by the time he was out he got Australia out of a hole and to the verge of the win. If he can score in those circumstances he’ll be able to deliver with a better platform too. He is also always in the game behind the stumps with the quality of the Australia bowling attack and only has a performance line of 40.5 here. He has covered that in seven of his last 10 ODIs and with the form he is in I think he can cover it again.
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