New Zealand win the toss and will bowl
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It has been six long days, almost an entire week, since the Stoinis and Sams show at Dunedin turned a routine New Zealand win into a thriller. (New Zealand still won.) The touring Australians are 2-0 down with three to play, so you can probably do the maths about the necessity of winning today in order to remain a chance of winning the series. For that to happen, some things will need to chance. Mostly that the players picked for their batting need to make some runs. Three wickets in an over in Dunedin, an early collapse of 4-19 in Christchurch before that, and lots of talk around Aaron Finch’s diminishing opportunities to find a score in this format and ease any doubts about him captaining the team to the T20 World Cup later this year.
One variable in the equation, and one thing that could perhaps reduce New Zealand’s home advantage, is that all three remaining matches will be played in Wellington. NZ’s minor virus outbreak means that moving around the country is not advised, thus they’ll stay put. It also means there will be no crowds in for the remaining games, so that will affect the players on the field. Whether a silent stadium will help the visiting team by levelling things up, or make it harder to find the required intensity, is entirely speculative. Reports from the first couple of games involved a lot of abuse coming over the fence, so at least there won’t be any more of that.
New Zealand will be forced to make one change, with all-rounder Mitchell Santner ruled out as a precaution due to some illness symptoms that have required a covid test, though he probably just has a cold. The only replacement options are Hamish Bennett, a seamer with no batting chops, or Mark Chapman, who bowls left-arm spin like Santner but in a much more part-time capacity while mostly being a batsman.
Australia will likely have a few changes. This was a double-header, too, with the NZ women’s side being thumped by England not long ago, bowled out for 96 which was chased easily.