New Zealand vs Australia - First T20
Monday February 22nd, 2021 / 2:00am EST
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Australia begin their tour of New Zealand with a five match T20 series. The first match will be played on Monday February 22nd, 2021 at approximately 2:00am EST, in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Surprisingly this is only the 11th time these two countries have played each other in this format, despite playing their first match 16 years ago.
All reports suggest that the weather will be good and the pitch will likely favor the batsmen, with something there for bowlers as well.
While Australia has not had many international matches recently, their entire squad played in the Big Bash League, with many of them performing exceedingly well. Captain Aaron Finch had a disappointing BBL 2021 and the team will be looking for him to lead by example as they have named a relatively young and inexperienced squad. Their bowling attack will likely be led by Jhye Richardson and Jason Behrendorff who both had outstanding BBL campaigns and they will be looking for Glenn Phillips, Marcus Stoinis and Glenn Maxwell to use their extensive experience in the batting lineup. One player to watch is D'Arcy Short who is capable of being a match-winner with either bat or ball. Given the many young players in their squad they are the slight underdogs heading into this match but are certainly not to be taken lightly.
New Zealand has recently played series against the West Indies and Pakistan with much success. As always, they will be led by Kane Williamson, who is the current #1 batsman in the world in Test Cricket. He is also in the top 10 in the shorter formats of the game and is definitely capable of being a match changer here. Their bowling attack is what stands out here, with Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult form one of the best attacks in world cricket and will be expected to perform here. Given their well balanced squad and having the home field advantage they are considered the favorites to win here.
Despite their lower world ranking, I expect New Zealand to win this match comfortably. They had a very deep and experienced squad and that will be a key factor in this series. Australia is loaded with young talent but don't yet have what it takes to topple the Kiwis.