Australia eye Chappell-Hadlee Trophy
Thursday, March 11
Start time 1400 (0100 GMT)
The Big Picture
The most important match of the series, as the players described it, went to Australia. They now hold a 2-1 lead with two matches to play and victory in Auckland will ensure they retain the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy that they won at home in December 2007 and retained through a drawn series in Australia last February. Their win on Tuesday in Hamilton was easily their most complete performance of the tour as their bowlers fired early and dismissed New Zealand, before the top-order batsmen clicked and a centurion was found. Michael Clarke's dash home to see his fiancée didn't upset their balance and they will be looking to turn the final game in Wellington into a dead rubber.
New Zealand have only ever won the Chappell-Hadlee Series outright on one occasion, when they triumphed in a 3-0 clean-sweep at home in early 2007. Their chances of back-to-back home wins rest on this game. They have been hurt over the past two matches by injuries to key players: Ross Taylor (leg) and James Franklin (hamstring) in the second game and then Daryl Tuffey (calf) in the third match. The loss of Franklin in particular disturbed their team balance and they could have used another bowling option on Tuesday. But there is promising news ahead of Thursday's fourth ODI.
"Ross Taylor seems to have got through yesterday well and Tuffey and Franklin look a lot better," the coach Mark Greatbatch said on Wednesday. "I think you'll see some changes if those guys are fit. We got a bit of a lesson [in Hamilton], it was probably our worst game of the series. We need to readjust and go back and look to try and counteract what they put in front of us."
Form guide (most recent first)New Zealand LLWWW
Watch out for...Ross Taylor returned from injury to post a handy 62 in Hamilton and he will be intent on pushing on in Auckland. Taylor's quick run-getting worries the Australians and if he can drag some of his team-mates along with him it will keep the pressure on. Should Taylor and Brendon McCullum fire together, it will be gripping viewing.
Ryan Harris is never going to be the side's most trendy player, but he is currently incredibly effective. His 3 for 48 in Hamilton took his tally for the season to 27 wickets in 10 games. For a bowler who has appeared in only 11 ODIs it's a stunning record. He doesn't look fast, but he is.
New Zealand have some injury worries but have not cut any players from the squad. So they have 15 men in the group and any number of combinations is possible, depending on whether Franklin or Tuffey, or both, recover in time for Thursday's game. Either way, it's unlikely that Shanan Stewart will be able to force his way in after Taylor's successful return from a leg problem. If Franklin is fit, Neil Broom could be the man to miss out after a lean start to the series.
New Zealand (possible) 1 Brendon McCullum (wk), 2 Peter Ingram, 3 Martin Guptill, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 James Franklin/Neil Broom, 6 Scott Styris, 7 Gareth Hopkins (wk), 8 Daniel Vettori (capt), 9 Daryl Tuffey/Michael Mason, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Shane Bond.
Clarke has gone home and has been replaced in the squad by the Tasmania batsman George Bailey but after the thumping win in Hamilton it's hard to see any changes being made to Australia's starting line-up.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Cameron White, 6 Adam Voges, 7 James Hopes, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Doug Bollinger.
Pitch and conditionsNew Zealand enjoy this small ground, which doubles as a rugby union field, and think their local knowledge is a big bonus. "There's some funny angles, I like it for the areas I hit," Gareth Hopkins said. "Dan [Vettori] likes it as well. Most of our grounds are smaller than [Australia are] used to. You're never out of the game, so we believe that." Some evening showers are predicted on Thursday night, with a top of 24C and a minimum of 16C.
Stats and trivia
- New Zealand have won 28 of 61 ODIs at Eden Park, but only three of those successes have occurred in the past five years
- Daniel Vettori, who scored 70 there on Saturday, is only 155 runs short of joining the elite ODI group of players to have 2000 runs and 200 wickets. There are currently only 11 other members
- Cameron White's strike-rate of 221.05 from his 42 off 19 balls in 2007 is the second highest strike-rate for an innings at the stadium, but it didn't help Australia win
Quotes"They're 2-1 up, we've got two to win. We're not thinking about Wellington, we're thinking about Auckland. We just need to go longer and better over the next 100 overs."
"The momentum if there's any to be taken out of this game is with us. If we start the game strongly on Thursday hopefully the momentum continues for us there."
Ricky Ponting after Tuesday's win© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.