Having thrashed Australia in the first ODI at Eden Park in Auckland, the New Zealanders would be extremely keen to get another win under their belt, and, with it, take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. The Kiwis were all over the Aussies in the first match. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that rarely has a team put up such a dominating performance against Australia in recent years. Be it with bat, ball or in the field, it was all one-way traffic, with the Kiwis staying ahead right from the start till the end. Australia will find it tough to comeback from such a humungous thrashing.
New Zealand will not be looking to do things much different from what they did at Auckland. Opener Martin Guptill is in the form of his life, and will be keen to extend the same even further. He should be hungry for more since he hasn’t tasted a lot of success against the Aussies over the years. Skipper Brendon McCullum too continued his smashing form, with a blistering innings. While he will be seen in action in the Tests to follow, the Kiwi skipper would want to finish off on a high in the ODIs as well. After all, it is a format which he has really enjoyed playing.
Kane Williamson had a rare failure at Eden Park, as he fell for a duck. Considering his amazing consistency, he will be due for a decent score. Henry Nicholls, who batted at number four with Ross Taylor injured, played a mature hand with a half-century. The middle and lower order will need to spruce up a bit though. Better contributions would be expected from the likes Grant Elliot, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi. New Zealand did post a 300 plus score in the first game, but they should have finished with a lot more as they faltered towards the end.
For Australia, the Auckland ODI must have been a rather bizarre feeling. In many ways, they were given a dose of their own medicine. In the World Cup game at the same venue last year, the Aussie batting crumbled, but they fought back with the ball. This wasn’t the case on Wednesday. Steven Smith will have to inspire the side to comeback strongly. It will be tough for sure, but they have the personnel for the same. The likes of David Warner, Smith himself, George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell will be expected to fire to keep the visitors alive.
A couple of changes are certain in the playing eleven in the wake of the heavy Auckland defeat. Usman Khawaja will come in straight into the opener’s slot, replacing his replacement Shaun Marsh. Can he be the big difference for the Aussies? With James Faulkner out injured, Australia have called in Adam Zampa. Aussies will hope the leggie troubles New Zealand. Having said that, the pacers also need to chip in. Josh Hazlewood and Kane Richardson need to pitch in and make the kind of contribution Matt Henry and Trent Boult made for Kiwis on Wednesday.
--By A Cricket Analyst