After some high voltage action in colored clothing, the trans-Tasman rivals will renew their hostilities in Test Cricket with the first of two Test matches set to start at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday, February 12.
The hosts gave a strong example of their resilience by overcoming the World Champions 2-1 in the ODIs to give a proper send-off to their skipper Brendan McCullum. While the Aussies lost the series, it was a perfect betting series for our BYB followers with the three winners all paying more than $2.00, plus Mitch Marsh for most wickets in the third ODI at juicy odds of $5.50.
We hope to continue that form in the Test series, as will the Kiwis, especially considering the vulnerability of the Aussies to swing bowling against the red ball.
The Kiwis were beaten 2-0 in a three-Test match series in Australia recently although the score doesn’t indicate how close the visitors ran them. McCullum’s men went on to defeat Sri Lanka at home after that series while Australia walloped West Indies at home in the Frank Worrell trophy.
McCullum is considered to be one of the greatest ‘thinking captains’ of this era and will want to sign off on a high. The performance of Kane Williamson with the bat will be vital as they miss Ross Taylor in the middle order. Henry Nicholls has been drafted after some clinical performances in the ODIs and should be a good replacement.
The hosts will welcome Tim Southee back and the combination of Southee and Trent Boult should be a handful for the visitors. Mitchell Santner is out with an injury but Mark Craig could consider this as his chance at redemption. Watch out for the versatility of Corey Anderson, both with the bat and ball.
For Steve Smith, this will be one of his biggest challenges so far as Test skipper. He has Usman Khawaja’s form and Adam Voges’ experience to fall back on in the batting, but critical for him will be the form of the hard-hitting David Warner at the top who can disrupt the rhythm of any bowler.
The return of Jackson Bird to the starting XI after three years should augur well considering his ability to sustain pressure with swing and seam movement. Josh Hazlewood will continue to lead the attack and should enjoy the conditions while Mitchell Marsh will provide the X-factor.
The conditions will once again be the key as the swinging ball could pose plenty of questions for the Aussies. Their ability against pace and bounce is well documented but equally well documented is their problems against the moving ball. The Kiwis may just spring a surprise with a win in the first Test match and look a good bet at odds of $2.65 at Sportsbet.
For New Zealand, Williamson looks set continue his run quest and could be their top scorer in the 1st innings at odds of $3.25 at Sportsbet while Voges could do the same for Australia at $5.00 at Sportsbet.
The past and present of these two teams set the series up nicely as we look forward to the start of another wonderful Test series. Game on!
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