The Black Caps play their penultimate group game at the 2019 Cricket World Cup when they take on Australia at Lord's at 12.30am tomorrow morning. Niall Anderson runs through all you need to know – well, at least most of what you need to know - about the clash.
It's finally time for the Black Caps to make changes, right?
You would expect so, but I would suggest not many, if they indeed decide to mix things up. Henry Nicholls for Colin Munro is the obvious one, and frankly if it doesn't happen against Australia, then it will surely never happen. "Here you go Henry, face Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, and then get ready for the semifinal." That wouldn't be the greatest of planning.
Martin Guptill and Tom Latham are safe despite some poor performances, which would leave the only other potential change seeing Tim Southee or Ish Sodhi come in for Matt Henry.
Is the pitch going to spin?
Who knows! Not even the Black Caps can tell, apparently, based on their admission after Sodhi's omission against Pakistan in Birmingham. The wicket they'll be playing on at Lord's is the same one used in Australia's win over England, where spinners took just one wicket and leaked 149 runs from 27 overs. However, the fact that the wicket will be a bit more worn could make things more interesting for the spinners, and mixing things up by opening the bowling with Mitchell Santner or Sodhi could at least provide something different to trouble the in-form Australian openers.
Oh yeah. How are the Black Caps meant to get those guys out?
It will be quite difficult. David Warner and Aaron Finch have combined for 642 runs as an opening pair at the World Cup, at an average opening stand of 91. That's remarkably three times as many runs as the next most profitable pairing – Pakistan's Imam ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman. They're the first pair in World Cup history to make five successive 50+ opening stands, and their dominance at the top has made things so simple for the talented batsmen that follow.
Trying out an early spin option is a possible idea, while former New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori thinks that Trent Boult will need to be at his best for the Black Caps to get on top.
What about Australia's seamers? I hear they're quite decent too?
Well, yeah, Mitchell Starc is only the greatest bowler in World Cup history, and potentially will also end his career as the greatest ODI bowler of all time. And then you've got Pat Cummins to deal with, as well as Jason Behrendorff, who claimed 5-44 against England and provides another left-arm option, which could be a handy tool after New Zealand struggled against the Pakistan left-arm seamers.
"We probably expect - after Behrendorff's success at Lord's - that he's likely to play again," said Black Caps coach Gary Stead.
"We certainly won't take that for granted but we'll plan to have two left-armers play against us.
"It's good we've had that exposure to left-armers in the last game."
Sounds like it's going to be a tough task. Is this game important for New Zealand's semifinal chances?
Not really – they're going to make it anyway, unless something staggering happens. But, with Australia projected as their most likely semifinal opponent, it's important – for confidence, if nothing else - to at least be competitive at Lord's.
How can I follow the game tomorrow morning?
Radio Sport will have live commentary of the game, and we will have live updates on nzherald.co.nz. If you want to know the Black Caps' lineup tonight we will have it first from the ground - from either myself or Andrew Alderson - and we'll have all the reaction for you come Sunday morning.