While much of New Zealand’s attention is captured by a certain Rugby World Cup final in France, the cricketing representatives have a crucial match against their trans-Tasman rivals with major implications for the Cricket World Cup.
Only a Virat Kohli masterclass has stood in between the Black Caps and a perfect start to their World Cup campaign - they now face the prospect of an Australian lineup that are rejuvenated after a slow start.
Defying many experts pre-tournament predictions, the Kiwis are on the verge of securing a semifinal berth - but how does history predict they will fare against the Aussies?
In ODI cricket, the two rivals have played 141 times: Black Caps have won 39, Australia 95, with seven no result. Grim reading for New Zealand fans indeed. In the last five matches, Australia have come out on top in all five - the most recent of which was a 25-run win in Cairns in 2022.
As is often the case with cricket, there are some interesting statistics ahead of this match with some potential milestones on the cards. Adam Zampa is two away from surpassing Brad Hogg’s tally of 156 wickets and entering Australia’s top 10 ODI wicket-takers. Tom Latham is 77 away from 4000 ODI runs for New Zealand.
Concerning for New Zealand is the fact have never beaten Australia in India from eight ODIs. Australia have also won eight of 11 matches between the teams in men’s ODI World Cup history.
Who then will the Black Caps look to to lead them to a win?
For the batters, Rachin Ravindra has emerged as a genuine star at this tournament. In six World Cup innings he has scored 290 runs at an average of 72.50 to sit ninth in the top run scorers table. He chimed in with a high score of 123* in the opener against England. Likely to bat a first drop in the place of injured captain Kane Williamson, New Zealand will look to him to lay a platform.
Daryl Mitchell has also been a standout performer at this World Cup for New Zealand, sitting 10thin the run-scorer standings behind his compatriot Ravindra on 268. He’s averaging 89.33 across four innings at this tournament and his 130 against India was a valiant effort.
With ball in hand Mitchell Santner is the third-highest wicket-taker at the World Cup with 12 for just 203 runs at an average of just 16.91. In the subcontinental conditions of India spin is likely to feature heavily, particularly in the second innings so Santner will likely bear a heavy amount of the strike workload.
Matt Henry too has been among the wickets for New Zealand, taking ten for 217 at an average of 21.7. He and Lockie Ferguson as well as the ever-present Trent Boult will have their work cut out for them against an Australian batting lineup that enjoys the ball coming on to the bat with pace.
New Zealand (possible): 1. Devon Conway, 2. Will Young, 3. Rachin Ravindra, 4. Tom Latham (c, wk), 5. Daryl Mitchell, 6. Glenn Phillips, 7. Mark Chapman, 8. Mitchell Santner, 9. Matt Henry, 10. Lockie Ferguson, 11. Trent Boult.
Australia (possible): 1. David Warner, 2. Mitchell Marsh, 3. Steve Smith, 4. Marnus Labuschagne, 5. Josh Inglis (wk), 6. Cameron Green, 7. Glenn Maxwell, 8. Pat Cummins (c), 9. Mitchell Starc, 10. Josh Hazlewood, 11. Adam Zampa.
Black Caps $2.30, Australia $1.60.
Where to watch
Sky Sport 1 from 5.30pm tonight. The Herald will have ball-by-ball updates.
Australia by three wickets/20 runs.
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