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March 8, 2010
The Big Picture
Chappell-Hadlee matches have a habit of being close and the opening two games of this series have been no exception. With a couple of overs remaining in each clash, either side could have won and a 1-1 scoreline is fitting. The Auckland encounter didn't feature the heated mood that simmered over in Napier, when Mitchell Johnson and Scott Styris clashed, but there remains some tension and the crowds have been vocal in their feelings towards the Australians.
Much of the focus for the New Zealand camp has been their injury worries, with James Franklin and Ross Taylor added to the casualty list on the weekend. They are already unable to pick Jesse Ryder, Grant Elliott, Kyle Mills, Ian Butler or Andy McKay due to injuries. It has left the team short and they would be keen for fringe players like Neil Broom and Peter Ingram to step up in the remaining games.
"I'm happy but as a captain [you get] sick of having to test depth issues," Vettori said. "We want our full team available as often as possible and it hurts you. But it's created opportunities. You look at the likes of a Gareth Hopkins who has come in and performed very well on his few chances. Maybe there are opportunities there but I think it would be better if it was 15 fully-fit guys competing for places."
Form guide (most recent first)New Zealand LWWWW
Watch out for...Mr Cricket has become Mr Consistency over the past six months. Michael Hussey is sometimes overlooked amid discussions of Australia's recent one-day success but it's an unfair omission. He is the world's No. 2 ranked ODI batsman and remarkably has reached double-figures in every one of his past 19 one-day international innings. In that time he has made eight half-centuries and is averaging 63.21. He has also carried the burden of often coming in when the top-order has stumbled and he has been under pressure to steady the innings.
If Hussey is Mr Cricket, Daniel Vettori is Mr New Zealand Cricket. He is a man of many roles but the most crucial are the basics - No. 1 bowler and increasingly key batsman. In Auckland, his counter-attacking 70 nearly got New Zealand home after he had taken 2 for 43. Few players worldwide are more critical to their team's success than Vettori, even if they did win without him in Napier.
Finding 11 fit players is half the battle for New Zealand. They lost Jacob Oram to a knee injury in the first game and on Saturday, Taylor didn't play due to a leg problem and Franklin hobbled off with a hamstring injury. Taylor and Franklin are considered 50-50 chances for this game, although Franklin's all-round requirements mean they could be more cautious in resting him. Vettori will play again despite his stiff neck and he could be joined by the uncapped batsman Shanan Stewart, who was called in to cover for Taylor. Gareth Hopkins will keep wickets again due to Brendon McCullum's sore back.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Peter Ingram, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor/Shanan Stewart, 5 Neil Broom, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Daryl Tuffey, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Shane Bond.
The Australians will be without their vice-captain Michael Clarke for an indefinite period, who's returning home for personal reasons, which means Adam Voges will play. A possible change is the potential inclusion of the fast man Clint McKay. Following a boom home summer, Doug Bollinger has had a couple of busts in New Zealand and could sit out of this one.
Australia (possible) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Adam Voges, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 James Hopes, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Clint McKay.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"It's probably the most important game of the series. The team that can go 2-1 up only needs to win one more to take out the series so we're trying to put everything in to this game."
"A lot of us are getting 40s and 50s and some pretty good starts, and getting competitive totals like yesterday. But it's pretty important we start putting some big scores together and start batting New Zealand out of the game."
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