AUCKLAND: Australia have not enjoyed their recent visits to Eden Park with three defeats on the bounce. Now they have two matches in the space of six days. They are safely in the final of the triangular series having won their three home games, so will get a sighter of conditions with significantly less pressure on them. Talking of those last three matches at this venue – they have thrown up some remarkable performances, albeit in the 50-over format. Who can forget that World Cup thriller, won by Kane Williamson’s straight six after Trent Boult and Mitchell Starc traded devastating spells? Boult was at it again in 2016 when Australia were thrashed by 159 runs, but last year’s meeting produced another heart-stopper out of nowhere when Marcus Stoinis’ unbeaten 146 almost carried Australia to a stunning win.
Really, though, the side with the most riding on this match is the one not playing: England’s chances of squeezing into the final rest on Australia winning, ideally handsomely to dent New Zealand’s net run-rate, then beating the hosts in Hamilton on Sunday. New Zealand won’t want to leave anything to chance having rediscovered their T20 groove in Wellington. The captain played his best T20I innings in over a year, the debutants – Mark Chapman and Tim Seifert struck hard and long – Mitchell Santner impressed with the ball and Boult finished it off. More of the same should push Australia harder than they have been so far in this short tournament. All England can do is watch.
In the spotlight: Colin de Grandhomme fell first ball to a stunning catch by Chris Jordan in Wellington, but was the only New Zealand batsman to look comfortable against Australia in Sydney. He is likely to retain a floating role, being promoted if the innings is well set, although shouldn’t really slip below No. 6 in any scenario. His medium pace also helped stem England’s run rate at the Westpac Stadium. Marcus Stoinis has good memories of Eden Park even though Australia lost last time. He took three wickets and hammered that 146 in what was a breakthrough performance in just his second ODI. He is still finding his feet in the T20 side and it is with ball that he has had more of an impact in this tournament. He removed Jos Buttler in Hobart then bowled his four overs for 18 in Melbourne.
Teams news: Left-armer Ben Wheeler and allrounder Anaru Kitchen are the other squad members who have yet to play in this tournament but it would be a surprise to see any changes. Captain David Warner was allowed a few extra days at home before linking back up with the squad for this contest. He is straight off to South Africa, where his Test colleagues are already heading, right after this tournament. He looks out of nick, so whether this is the best place for him is a moot point but his captaincy has been excellent.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Mark Chapman, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Tim Seifert (wk), 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Ish Sodhi, 11 Trent Boult
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner (capt), 2 D’Arcy Short, 3 Chris Lynn, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Aaron Finch, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Kane Richardson, 11 Billy Stanlake.