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First Innings: Australia
Australia are 248 for 4
|1/53 (20.0)||*Southee||O: 90.0||Labuschagne*||110 (202)|
|2/52 (22.0)||Wagner||RR:2.36||Head||20 (34)|
|c. Southee b. Wagner||74.3|
|lbw. de Grandhomme||12.6|
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|First Innings: Australia||4/248||RR: 2.36||O: 90.0|
lbw. de Grandhomme
c. Southee b. Wagner
(b 2, lb 0, w 7, nb 2)
|C. de Grandhomme||16.0||6||24||1||1.50|
Australia welcome New Zealand, the world’s second-best Test nation, to Perth’s Optus Stadium for the first of an enticing three-match series. Follow all the Day 1 action of this day-night Test with live scores and commentary right here on The Roar from 4pm (AEDT).
Tim Paine’s men are coming off a 2-0 win over Pakistan, but that was more a procession than Test series. Both matches were won by an innings, and the hosts lost just 13 total wickets to the tourists’ 40.
Kane Williamson’s Black Caps will offer a far sterner test. The no.2-ranked nation in the format, New Zealand have brought a classy batting order and strong bowling attack to Australia, with many saying it’s the best ever Kiwi team to make the trip across the Tasman.
Williamson is the star of the batting line-up, but he’s ably supported by veteran Ross Taylor, emerging gun Henry Nicholls, opener Tom Latham, and BJ Watling, who former Australian gloveman Adam Gilchrist rates as the best keeper-batsman in the world.
There is, however, a weakness atop the order. Jeet Raval is known as an effective blunter of the new ball, but since his last century at home against Bangladesh in February, hasn’t passed 35 once in first-class cricket. Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc will be racing to have first crack at the out-of-sorts opener.
Another issue facing the tourists is the complete lack of familiarity with the conditions. None of the New Zealand squad have ever played a Test at any of this series’ venues – Optus Stadium, the MCG and SCG. The fast Perth pitch will pose a new challenge even for batsmen of Williamson and Taylor’s ilk.
The Western Australian weather itself is another hurdle to overcome; the forecast from today until Sunday is for 40-degree day after 40-degree day. The night sessions will offer some respite, but the first two will be oppressive. Expect the pitch to crack up significantly as the match progresses as a result.
On the team news front, Australia yesterday confirmed an unchanged XI: David Warner and Joe Burns opening, the in-form Marnus Labuschagne at no.3, Steve Smith at no.4 and Matthew Wade, Travis Head and skipper Paine followed by the bowling attack of Cummins, Starc, Nathan Lyon and Hazlewood.
New Zealand were dealt a heavy blow earlier this morning with the news Trent Boult has been ruled out of the first Test. Boult picked up a side strain in the first Test of the Black Caps’ recent series win over England, and his swing-bowling prowess will be sorely missed with the pink ball.
The left-armer’s absence clears the way for express quick Lockie Ferguson to make his long-awaited Test debut. A regular on the international stage with the white ball, Ferguson’s ability to hit 150km/h will be a valuable addition to the side in Australian conditions.
Tim Southee and Neil Wagner will likely round out the frontline pace attack, supported by Mitchell Santner’s spin. All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme should be passed fit after missing the second Test against England, but a readymade replacement in Daryl Mitchell is also available. Latham, Raval, Williamson, Taylor, Nicholls and Watling will comprise the top six.
New Zealand will provide Australia with proper opposition for this first Test and the rest of the series, the batting order in particular looming as an area of strength.
Australia are a formidable side at home, particularly with Smith and Warner in the side and Burns, Labuschagne and Wade boosting areas of the line-up which were previously weak. The attack, meanwhile, is the best in the world when in familiar conditions.
On the back of that bowling quartet, Boult’s injury and New Zealand’s lack of familiarity with the conditions, it’s impossible to look past the Aussies to take a 1-0 series lead in Perth.
Join The Roar for live scores and commentary of the first day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand from 4pm (AEDT), and be sure to chime in with your own comments on the match too.
First ball: 4pm (AEDT)
Venue: Optus Stadium, Perth
TV: Channel Seven, Fox Cricket
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Session times (AEDT): Afternoon – 4pm-6pm. Evening – 6:40pm-8:40pm. Night – 9pm-11pm
Odds: Australia $1.35, New Zealand $5, draw $9
Australia (confirmed XI)
David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Also in squad: Michael Neser, James Pattinson
New Zealand (likely XI)
Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling (wk), Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Lockie Ferguson
Also in squad: Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Daryl Mitchell.
Preview by Daniel Jeffrey