Ed Hawkins previews the back-to-back clash at the SCG on Saturday night and says the winner should bat first.
"That has been the historic trend on the head-to-heads: runs on the board. Nine of the last 11 have been won by the team batting first"
Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 14 March 23.30
Live on Sky Sports
Bowlers to the fore
Australia halted a three-game losing sequence with what eventually proved to be a comfortable victory over New Zealand at the SCG on Friday. But it was their bowling strength which won them the day with doubts persisting about their batting.
We have often said that the Aussies need a platform built by David Warner and Aaron Finch to hope for a total of more than 300. This time they got that but their consistent problem with a mediocre middle order returned to haunt them. From 145 for one in the 29th over, they will have been sorely disappointed with a total of 258.
Pat Cummins and Adam Zampa, with three wickets apiece, made sure the malaise was not disastrous. With Mitch Marsh taking pace off and claiming two wickets, not to mention five to New Zealand spinners, the Aussies may bring in an extra spinner in the form of Ashton Agar.
Possible XI Warner, Finch, Smith, Labuschagne, M Marsh, Short, Carey, Agar, Cummins, Starc, Zampa
Old problems return
New Zealand would have reckoned the game was in their pocket at half-time. Unfortunately, their own historic foible returned to haunt them: chasing moderate scores against their bitter rivals. This was a similar effort to their collapse to 157 all out in pursuit of 244 in the World Cup.
From early on the timing of the chase looked to be off and regular wickets and ponderous runscoring meant they sunk slowly and grimly into the mire, being bowled out for 187. The game looked up when Ross Taylor was third out in the 21st over with the score on just 69. Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme provided only brief hope with a 51-run stand.
It was particularly galling as New Zealand had added Jimmy Neesham to strengthen their batting. With the bowlers performing superbly, they are likely to stick with the same XI.
Probable XI Guptill, Nicholls, Williamson, Taylor, Latham, Neesham, De Grandhomme, Santner, Sodhi, Ferguson, Boult
Australia's win in Sydney was the eighth time in the last 11 that the side batting first (in all conditions) had won. They did it without a particularly impressive score historically.
In all conditions, the last 11 first-innings scores (most recent first, 1-2 denote match won by side batting first or second) read: 258-1/288-1/302-1/353-1/324-1/330-2/328-1/133-2/111-2/376-1/408-1.
It's a bat-first wicket, then, with the spinners primed to squeeze the chaser. Zampa and Agar or Ish Sodhi and Mitch Santner will be expected to turn the game decisively.
Australia have little appeal
Australia are 4/91.43 with New Zealand 15/82.86. This is a significant shift from 8/131.60 and 6/42.50 from game one pre-toss.
We shouldn't be too impressed by the Aussies or too disheartened by the Kiwis. The toss, it seems, is key with the sides well-matched in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Both are stronger with the ball. Both have issues with the bat.
We reiterate that Australia are not a side to be trusted in the chase and we can well see New Zealand as value if they get the opportunity to bat first. That has been the historic trend on the head-to-heads: runs on the board. Nine of the last 11 have been won by the team batting first.
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Warner still loves SCG
Warner still loves the SCG after he top-batted in game one. That's now eight times he has passed fifty in 14 innings at the venue. Warner will probably take a cut to 12/5 with Sportsbook for top Aussie bat. Warner, who averages 57 against the Kiwis in the last five years, including two tons and two fifties, is likely to go off at around 6/1 for man of the match with Sportsbook.
We will still be swerving Kane Williamson for top New Zealand honours at slightly better odds, preferring to point out big numbers on Ross Taylor. Martin Guptill won in the first match but he's not a man who has a record of back-to-back wins.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l
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Back New Zealand batting first 15/82.86 (1pt)