New Zealand went into the first Test against Australia hoping to make a serious impact, knowing well that his was their best chance in three decades to pull off an upset against their much-famed Trans-Tasman rivals. But, if the opening Test of the series is anything to go by, the Kiwis definitely have their task cut out, and the premise of being slight favourites has been all but thrown out of the window. Australia were the superior team in the match by some distance, and the Kiwis were forever trying to catch up with them. In the end, they fell way short.
Looking back at the Test, Australia’s first-day effort was significant. Although they won the toss and batted first, there would have been pressure for sure on more than one batsman. Joe Burns was taking over the opening slot from Chris Rogers, and those are decent shoes to fill. Also, Usman Khawaja was making a comeback after having been out of the reckoning for the last couple of seasons. In the wake of his disastrous Ashes campaign, Adam Voges was playing to save his place in the team. Under the circumstances, Tim Southee and Trent Boult would have fancied their chances. But, they didn’t have much luck.
The big opening stand between Burns and Warner on day one pretty much crushed New Zealand’s hopes of restricting the Aussies to a decent total. The duo looked in no trouble at all during their stay at the crease, and the ease with which they got the runs also seemed to have mentally affected the Kiwi bowlers. Burns was unlucky to miss out on a hundred, but he made up for the same with one in the second innings, by when the Aussies were very much in the driver’s seat, and were under no pressure at all.
While Burns’ instant success would mean Australia would not have any opening headaches for the next few games, the biggest plus from the match was undoubtedly the standout effort of Warner. In the Ashes, he was constantly getting starts, but failed to make the most of them. And thus, even though he ended up with a decent average, his campaign was disappointing. Brisbane is more like what Australia expect of Warner. After all, the left-hander is now among the senior-most members of the side, and will have to deliver more often.
Overall, it was a near perfect match for the hosts. Khawaja made a massive first-innings hundred while Voges also chipped in with a half-century. The bowling was also up to the mark with Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon all chipping in. For New Zealand, it was quite the opposite. Except for Kane Williamson in the first innings, and skipper Brendon McCullum in the second, their batting was a collective failure. With the ball, a lot was expected of Southee and Boult, but they could not deliver. Lots to think about for the Kiwis then.
--By A Cricket Analyst