The headline series of the summer between second-ranked New Zealand and fifth-ranked Australia will start on Thursday with the first Test at Perth.
Both teams are coming off series wins, which promises a contest of the highest order.
The World Test Championship (WTC) points will be on offer for the series. Australia are second in the table with 176 points, while the ‘Black Caps’ are third with 60 points.
The hosts are fresh from blanking Pakistan 2-0 in a series that was dominated by the Australians in all departments. David Warner (489 runs, 2×100) was utterly dominant, while Marnus Labuschagne (347 runs, 2×100) was equally consistent. The run-machine Steve Smith wasn’t required to contribute much (40 runs).
Australia’s bowling remains a solid combination of the pace trio – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, who combined for 32 wickets against Pakistan. Nathan Lyon enjoys bowling with the pink ball (22 wickets @ average of 28.00 in six matches) and will be a vital part of Australia’s plans.
The Kiwis are coming off a 1-0 series win over England that was epitomised by their team display. The gritty BJ Watling scored 260 runs in the series, while Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor came to form in the final innings. However, the poor form of Jeet Raval at the top is a big concern for Williamson.
Neil Wagner, who was left out of the squad when the Kiwis last toured Australia, topped the bowling charts against Pakistan (13 wickets). However, injuries to Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme leaves a bit of void in the Kiwis’ charge.
Australia were immaculate against Pakistan, leading in all three departments. Although they were hardly tested, Warner and the three pacers dominated the proceedings for the hosts. New Zealand will provide a stern Test, with Williamson and Wagner expected to lead the show. The Kiwis will bank their chances on getting their batting right. However, the absence of Boult lessens their hopes, as does the injury to Colin de Grandhomme.
History & Statistics
- Australia have won six of their last nine Tests.
- Australia have all six of their day-night Tests.
- Australia have won the only previous Test played at this venue.
- Australia have won seven of their last nine H2H home Tests (W7, D1, L1).
- New Zealand have lost their last three Tests against Australia.
- New Zealand have won only one Test against Australia since 1993 (W1, D7, L20).
- New Zealand have won the only day-night Test that they played.
Marnus Labuschagne has been the consistent performer for Australia starting with the Ashes. The stylish right-hander should once again be among the runs.
Watling has been the unsung hero for New Zealand for quite some time. His ability to stitch important partnerships will be key to how well the Kiwis can compete with their hosts.