Having been thwarted by Steven Smith’s exhilarating 164 in the first One-Day International in Sydney on Sunday, New Zealand now face a must-win in the three-match series. They approach the second ODI in Canberra on Tuesday (December 6) knowing they must outdo an Australian side buoyed by the dominant manner of their 68-run victory two days earlier.
The build-up to the first game was clouded by the controversy surrounding Glenn Maxwell’s comments on Matthew Wade, but Australia did well to put all that behind them and focus on the match. In fact, Travis Head, in the side in place of Maxwell, had a fine outing as well scoring a 60-ball 52. More importantly, he supported his captain ably in a 127-run fifth-wicket stand.
After Head’s dismissal, caught-and-bowled by Trent Boult, Smith went on to put on 83 with Wade, the captain going on to score a 157-ball 164 – his career-best ODI score. It helped Australia rack up a tall 324 for 8, and in the process of doing so, they also drained the confidence from the New Zealand attack – Lockie Ferguson, the debutant medium pacer, picked up a wicket in just his first over, but then finished with an expensive 1 for 73 in nine overs.
In response, New Zealand did have a batsman leading from the front, just like Smith, with Martin Guptill scoring a ballistic 102-ball 114. However, unlike the hosts, the rest of New Zealand’s line-up couldn’t provide ample support. Colin Munro did score a 59-ball 49, but with Guptill failing to carry on and bat deep after scoring his century, Australia eventually eased to victory.
It’s these problems New Zealand will look to address in the crucial second game. Speaking on the eve of the match, Munro admitted that New Zealand weren’t on the ball. They failed to put on partnerships and bat long, their bowlers struggled to stick to their plans, and Australia were allowed to get away.
Munro stressed on the need to remain positive. “(We need to do) little things in terms of taking the innings a little bit deeper, with the ball just sticking to our plans,” he told reporters on Monday. “We went away from it a little bit last night. If we can just stick to our plan, and get around our bowlers, we can go a long way.
“We’ve just got to keep being positive and taking that aggressive option in the field. Hopefully, if it sticks, it goes well. Like I said before, we’ve got to take every opportunity, especially when you’re playing against Australia in Australia. We’ve to be right on our game.”
Given all the off-field talk, the first ODI was perhaps the best chance for New Zealand to lay into Australia and claim the early advantage. However, with victory in the bag now, Australia’s outlook on the series will be markedly different — they seem confident and eager to get back on the field.
As the lead of the pack, Smith has led from the front. His daddy hundred is expected to galvanise the rest of the squad, and Head said as much. “Going into the match, he asked a top-four batter to get a hundred, and as a leader, it’s great for him to go out and do that,” said Head. “He talked about it in the prep, and he’s just gone out there and got the runs. He won the game by himself. It definitely would have instilled confidence in all the batters. You want match-winners and he’s one of them.”
Australia are unlikely to change a winning combination for Tuesday, meaning Maxwell and James Faulkner will remain on the sidelines. That said, Head did a decent job filling in the big shoes of Maxwell, even if he later conceded that he felt the pressure.
“Pressure is always on,” he said. “That’s the case with everyone on the side. You’ve got James Faulkner on the sides as well, and he’s a fantastic player. You’ve probably got five guys banging on the door that aren’t in the squad. The competition for spots is always on, and you’ve always got to be performing, getting runs, across formats. In Australian cricket, you’ve got to be banging the door down, and once you’re in the side, it’s hard to stay in the side. You’ll always need to be performing to keep your spot. I’m not feeling comfortable. I’ll always have to try and get better each day, whether with bat, ball or in the field.”
The Manuka Oval has usually aided the team batting first – the six most recent ODIs at the venue have been won by the side doing so. There is a threat of rain, but as long it stays away, it should be a fine clash between an Australia side riding on momentum and a desperate New Zealand looking to stay alive.
Australia: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner, Aaron Finch, George Bailey, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), BJ Watling (wk), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee.