Shaky Australia in trans-Tasman clash
Match factsWednesday, June 12, Edgbaston
Start time 1030 (0930 GMT)
At the last Champions Trophy, Australia beat New Zealand in the final to secure their second consecutive title. This year, the two teams meet with Australia's tournament all but on the line. A loss in their opening match against England has left the Australians vulnerable and should they lose to New Zealand, they would not only have to beat Sri Lanka next Monday but they would also need England to lose their remaining two matches to have any hope of scraping through to the semi-finals. Even then, it would come down to net run-rate. Should New Zealand win their progression is not certain, although it would take a similarly intricate series of results for them to miss out to England and Sri Lanka on net run-rate. An Australian victory would keep things fairly even throughout the group.
However, the Australians will need to overcome New Zealand without their captain Michael Clarke, who has been ruled out due to a back injury that has plagued him since he arrived in England. The more significant long-term worry will be his availability for the Ashes which follow after. David Warner is a real concern as well, having scored ducks in the two warm-up matches, followed by 9 against England. New Zealand's cordon will be well advised to be on high alert early in Warner's innings, given the way he has been slashing and edging of late.
New Zealand also have an injury concern around a senior player, with Daniel Vettori likely to miss out having had a saline injection in his troublesome left Achilles tendon. "You only have to look at him. He's limping and is a bit ginger walking around the field," the New Zealand fast bowler, Kyle Mills, said on Monday. "He's been doing it since his teenage years at this level and his body is tired. He shows tremendous toughness and hopefully he can rise to the occasion for these next games to get us over the line. He looked jovial getting his toast and cereal at breakfast this morning, but there's obviously a lot of discomfort."
Form guide(most recent first, last five completed games)
New Zealand: WLWWL
Watch out for...
Less than five years ago, Luke Ronchi made his debut for Australia against West Indies. During that series he scored a 22-ball half-century, the fourth fastest ODI fifty by an Australia player. Now he is about to line up against his former country for the first time, having qualified for his birth nation of New Zealand earlier this year. Ronchi's initial forays into the New Zealand side have brought few runs, but against familiar Australian bowlers, he will be keen to prove that he can be a long-term force at the top of the order.
Since George Bailey made his ODI debut in March last year, only Ian Bell and Tillakaratne Dilshan have scored more one-day international runs than his 819 at an average of 45.50. During the one-day series in England last year, Bailey was the one shining light in Australia's batting order and again during their loss to Alastair Cook's men on Saturday he was the top scorer with 55. Bailey is a capable stand-in captain and a reliable presence in the middle order, but he needs significantly greater support if Australia are to progress to the next stage of this tournament.
If Vettori is put on ice, New Zealand would likely bring in Colin Munro or Grant Elliott, although Elliott's availability would also depend on how well he has recovered from a calf injury.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Luke Ronchi (wk), 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin, 6 Brendon McCullum (capt), 7 Colin Munro / Grant Elliott, 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan.
Clarke will again miss out, but Australia have a few backup options in the batting department, unless they want to give Glenn Maxwell a go in place of fellow allrounder Mitchell Marsh. Xavier Doherty might also come under consideration, although the potential for rain on Wednesday could discourage the selectors from bringing him in.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 George Bailey (capt), 5 Adam Voges, 6 Mitchell Marsh / Glenn Maxwell, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc / Xavier Doherty, 11 Clint McKay.
Pitch and conditions
Both matches at Edgbaston so far have been won with relative comfort by the team batting first, for scoring appears to become tougher as the matches wear on. There is some rain expected around the Birmingham region on Wednesday and the forecast is for a high of 17°C.
Stats and trivia
- Kyle Mills will be the outright leading wicket-taker in Champions Trophy history if he claims one more victim. Prior to this match, he stands equal with Muttiah Muralitharan on 24 wickets
- New Zealand and Australia have not met in a one-day international since the 2011 World Cup
- Australia have not lost to New Zealand in a world tournament since the 1999 World Cup
Quotes"All their top order will be feeling the heat a little bit to not only win the game but also hold their spot in the team. If we can take advantage of that I'm sure it will bode well for us in those pressure situations."
Kyle Mills, New Zealand fast bowler
"If it continues to be dry, we need to consider a spinner. We need to get the balance right. We need to get partnerships going."
Australia's captain George Bailey after the loss to England
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here