Pride will be top of New Zealand agenda as they take the field for the third and final Test of the series against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground from Friday.
After two comprehensive wins in Perth (296 runs) and Melbourne (247 runs), Australia will out to claim a 3-0 whitewash over the Tasman rivals.
All eyes will be on the team compositions, with the SCG traditionally and recently favouring the spinners. Australia have brought in a second spinner, so it will be interesting to see if Mitch Swepson gets a game. The Kiwis have brought in veteran off-spinner William Somerville as a replacement for the injured Trent Boult.
It has been a dominant all-round performance from Australia this series, highlighted by their batting. Led by Marnus Labuschagne (275 runs, 1×50 1×100) and Travis Head (203 runs, 1×50 1×100), the Australians have been ruthless and dominant throughout the series so far.
With the ball, there has been relentless pressure from the home side too. Mitchell Starc (11) and Nathan Lyon (10) have been the leading wickettakers, while Pat Cummins (eight) hasn’t been far behind. It will be interesting to see if one of the main bowlers gets a rest to accommodate a second spinner in Swepson.
It has been a series to forget for the Kiwis, with a number of disappointments across the board. None more so than their captain Kane Williamson (57 runs, Avg. 14.25), whose highest score in the series is just 34. The fact that only two batsmen – Ross Taylor and Tom Blundell – aggregate over 100 runs highlights their woes.
There is nothing to doubt the New Zealand bowling performances, though, as the lion-hearted Neil Wagner (14 wickets) and Tim Southee (12 wickets) have belied the continued lack of support from the rest of the attack. The ineffectiveness of their main spinner Mitchell Santner (1/250 in the series) remains a major concern.
Australia have been utterly dominant in all departments and thoroughly deserve their series win. Without a doubt they will aim for a series whitewash, which looks a foregone result at this stage. The Kiwi players were on the field for 425 overs in the two Tests combined, while their batsmen have played just 246 overs. It will be a massive ‘fitness Test’ for their bowlers and that only adds to their troubles. Somerville could be drafted straight into the side replacing the under-fire Santner.
History & Statistics
- Australia have won eight of their last 11 Tests.
- Australia have won their last six home H2H Tests.
- The only team to defeat Australia at SCG since the start of 1996 is England (twice) – P25, W19, D4, L2.
- New Zealand have lost their last five Tests against Australia.
- New Zealand have won only one Test against Australia since 1993 over 30 Tests (W1, D7, L22).
- New Zealand have a W1, D1 record at the SCG, but the last match was in 1985.
- Three of the last five SCG Tests have been drawn.
Nathan Lyon is yet to take five wickets in eight SCG Tests, with his best being 4/178.
Despite playing just one Test, Tom Blundell (136 runs, 1×100) is already New Zealand’s best batsman.