Cricket: Australia aiming to knock back Black Caps

By David Leggat

Shane Watson will be hoping to show the Black Caps where they stand. Photo / Getty
Shane Watson will be hoping to show the Black Caps where they stand. Photo / Getty

New Zealand can expect verbal jabs from Australia when the teams have their world T20 clash at Dharamsala on Friday night.

Veteran allrounder Shane Watson confirmed New Zealand will be getting some advice on where they stand against Australia.

''Look, there's no doubt that the Kiwis always play very well and they always punch above their weight and they've been playing very good cricket, especially over the last couple of years," Watson said. ''But knowing the history I've had playing against the Kiwis, we've
always played very well against them as well.

''There's still quite a few players who are still in that New Zealand team that know that history and have been involved in (it) as well.

"We'll certainly be letting them know of that as well, because they're going to have to be at their absolute best to beat us."

This will be the first world T20 meeting between the transtasman rivals, but in 10 World Cup matches, Australia have won seven and lost three.

However, also expect group rivals to think hard about following New Zealand's bowling lead at the tournament after their dramatic 47-run win over favourites India at Nagpur today.

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New Zealand trumped India by playing three specialist spinners to steal an early march, and Australia will ponder choosing a second specialist spinner alongside young legspinner Adam Zampa on Friday night.

"I think the wickets that have been on show in Dharamsala, from what I've seen in the qualifiers, have been slow and turning quite big," Australian opener, and Indian Premier League veteran, Aaron Finch said.

Their option is introducing left armer Ashton Agar alongside Zampa and offspinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell. Neither Zampa nor Agar had played an international T20 until the three-match warm-up series against South Africa at the start of this month.

While the Indian win match was a triumph of planning for captain Kane Williamson and coach Mike Hesson, they will be quick to temper the mood in the camp.

It's only one game of five in their Super 10 group two pool so New Zealand will be wise to take a pragmatic view.

Australia, Pakistan and Bangladesh are to come. But what today's success has done is enable New Zealand to clear their throats and announce they are ready for a big push towards making the semifinals.

Two wins from the next three games should ensure that. Lose to Australia - and it's worth remembering New Zealand have lost four of five T20s against the Aussies, and tied the other - and they will have lost the surge of momentum today's performance has given them.

The idea of dispensing with their two best bowlers, seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee, along with the successful limited-overs left armer Mitchell McClenaghan, probably took some getting their heads around, but boldness paid off.

"There was a lot of purchase out there," man of the match Mitchell Santner said after taking four for 11 off his four overs, to follow an important 18 off 17 balls.

"We stuck to our plans really well and managed to keep getting wickets at crucial times."
New Zealand will need to talk through their batting strategy.

Demanding as conditions were for batsmen, New Zealand will know they're unlikely to win many more games at the tournament if they can't better 126 batting first.

- NZ Herald

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