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.
(last five completed matches, most recent first)
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Pitch and conditions
There has been some horrendously wet weather in Auckland in recent weeks, but the forecast for match day is good. However, if pitch preparation has been impacted it could be on the slower side. Despite the short, straight boundaries the ground is New Zealand’s third slowest scoring T20I venue – although Pakistan made 201 here last month.
Stats and trivia
The first ever T20I was played between these two teams at this venue in February 2005. Australia won by 44 runs.
This is a home-ground game for Auckland’s Mark Chapman, but he’s never played on this ground. Auckland play their domestic cricket on Eden Park No. 2, the outer oval, except for last year’s pink-ball trial match in the Plunket Shield – but Chapman was 12th man
Only six of Australia’s squad have previously played at Eden Park
New Zealand have won five and lost seven of their 14 T20Is at the ground, with two no results
“The game that we played against them in Sydney we got right on top early and we were able to maintain that pressure. We didn’t let Munro and Guptill get away and we know they can be so damaging at the top of the order.”
Aaron Finch on the key to Australia’s opening victory against New Zealand
“I think it’s the same as us going to Australia and the crowd over there. If you let it under your skin, you’re not concentrating hard enough on what’s going on in the middle. Hopefully the crowd get in behind us and give the Aussies a hard time.”
Martin Guptill on Australia’s relative lack of international experience