Australia will be looking to bounce back from their first ever defeat against Zimbabwe on home soil when they take on New Zealand in the first of three One Day Internationals in Cairns on Tuesday.
The Aussies may have won the series against Zimbabwe 2-1, but the fact they were outplayed by the minnows in the third match on Saturday was alarming to say the least.
Aaron Finch’s men were skittled out for just 141 runs in 31 overs before Zimbabwe reached the total with 11 overs to spare.
It is fair to say that Australia fell well below the standards expected of them and they will be keen to bounce back when they meet New Zealand on Tuesday.
There are three ODIs scheduled to take place, all at the Cazalys Stadium in Cairns, before the Aussies jet off to India for some T20 action.
It is crucial they get back to winning ways against New Zealand before they do, so let’s take a closer look at the opening game.
What: Australia v New Zealand
Where: Cazalys Stadium, Cairns
When: 14:20 (AEST) Tuesday 6th September 2022
How to watch: Kayo, Foxtel
Odds: Australia 4/9, New Zealand 7/4
Australia have not been in the greatest form in the one-day format of the game and before the series win over Zimbabwe they lost away from home against Pakistan (2-1) and Sri Lanka (3-2).
They are now back on home soil but there will need to be a huge improvement on the way they played in the third game against Zimbabwe.
New Zealand on the other hand have been in great form. Indeed Australia were the last team to beat them in a series back in 2020.
Since then the Kiwis have gone on to dominate, winning five series on the bounce. Their most recent success was a 2-1 victory over the West Indies and the Australians will be their toughest test yet.
Australia have pretty much a full squad to choose from but there is a chance that changes will be made to the side that lost to Zimbabwe in Townsville at the weekend.
Head coach Andrew McDonald has hinted he will shuffle the pack. Spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar played against Zimbabwe but there is a chance the Aussies could go with pace instead with Sean Abbott pushing to play.
Marnus Labuschagne and Josh Inglis have been added to the squad and could also have a role to play.
Test captain Pat Cummins will be rested once again, Mitchell Marsh is out injured, while Travis Head sits out as his partner is due to give birth.
Australia: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.
As you would expect New Zealand are taking the series very seriously and have named a full-strength side.
Matt Henry has returned to fitness and is pushing for a place in the pace attack. They also have to decide whether to go with spin-bowling all-rounder Michael Bracewell or middle-order batsman Glenn Phillips.
New Zealand: Finn Allen, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham (wk), Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ben Sears, Tim Southee, Kane Williamson (c).
Australian skipper Finch is a man under pressure as he continues to struggle with the bat and he is in desperate need of some runs in this opening match.
While fellow opener David Warner top-scored with 94 runs in the last match against Zimbabwe, Finch managed just 5. He made a total of 21 runs in the three matches and it has been the story of the last 12 months.
His performances against New Zealand have not been great either as he averages just over 17 runs in the last 10 matches. So he will be keen to answer the critics.
Former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting believes the pressure is on and Finch needs runs quickly or a decision will have to be made.
“I mean, if he continues to fail, the pressure is just going to continue to mount. But if he turns up with a few good performances from here until then, then I think they’ll definitely stick with him,” Ponting said.
Meanwhile, Allen has been in great touch for New Zealand and caught the eye with 96 runs off 117 deliveries against the West Indies in Barbados.
He has also chipped in with another half century and could be a big threat to the Australian bowlers.