Charge down the wicket with cricket tips as the in-form New Zealanders host Australia in the first of five T20I encounters.
17:00 (AEDT), Mon 22nd Feb @ Hagley Oval, Christchurch
History: Played 9: Australia 7 V New Zealand 1 (1 Tie)
Last meeting: February 21, 2018: Australia d New Zealand by 19 runs at Eden Park
Final Thoughts: Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and Australia get their five-match T20I series in the Shaky Isles underway in Christchurch.
It’s been a dominant home summer of cricket for the Blackcaps. They won T20I series against West Indies (2-0) and Pakistan (2-1) with a young line-up, while the New Zealand Test team carved out emphatic 2-0 series wins over both nations.
The Australians are still reeling from a Test series loss to undermanned India. They won their ODI series against India in November 2-1, but lost the T20I rubber 2-1.
Nevertheless, Australia are the second-ranked nation in Twenty20 cricket, while the Kiwis are sixth.
The visitors also have the advantage of calling upon several in-form stars from the recently completed BBL|10 season. Big Bash Player of the Tournament Josh Philippe is expected to debut, opening alongside out-of-sorts skipper Aaron Finch.
The likes of Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh and Jhye Richardson were also superb throughout the BBL campaign.
Martin Guptill has been passed fit for the Blackcaps, but the veteran opener has had a tough summer form-wise. The opposite is true of brilliant captain Kane Williamson, however, and young guns Tim Seifert, Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips have shown they are international-quality batsmen.
Towering all-round Kyle Jamieson will attract plenty of attention after going for $2.5 million in last week’s IPL auction. He features in a New Zealand bowling attack alongside trusty stalwarts Trent Boult and Tim Southee.
Can New Zealand turn T20I tables on ‘big brother’?
New Zealand has beaten Australia just once in T20Is – at the 2016 World T20 in 2016. Australia won all three clashes when the archrivals last met in the format in February 2018.
Slight $1.95 underdogs, the Kiwis have the bonus of playing together for most of the summer. Half of their Test team is in the T20I squad, while Matt Wade is Australia’s only Test player in today’s likely XI. But the BBL factor is hard to overlook – Aussies are more likely to find their groove in the shorter format first up.
Consider explosive tyros Philippe and Seifert in the top batsman markets.