New Zealand v Australia, 2nd Test, Hamilton March 26, 2010

Unsettled New Zealand must stand up

Match Facts

March 27-31, Seddon Park, Hamilton
Start time 11am (2200 GMT)

The Big Picture

By winning the first match Australia have done enough to retain the Trans-Tasman Trophy, which they held coming in to the series, but they are keen to end their Test summer with seven wins instead of six. Their chances of taking the series 2-0 will be boosted by the inclusion of Shane Watson, who has declared himself fit after missing the first Test with a hip injury that he picked up during the one-day series. Watson batted for nearly an hour in the nets at Seddon Park on Friday and will take back his spot from Phillip Hughes on Saturday morning. "In the last four or five days it has come together really well," Watson said. "I'll be right to go at full speed."

The visitors will need another big effort from the attack after the fast men toiled over four consecutive days in Wellington. Watson was confident that he could bolster the bowling group despite his lay-off. "I've had a fairly big workload in the last six months with my bowling so a week off, not bowling, won't make much difference to my workload," he said. "I'll be able to bowl the overs that Ricky wants me to bowl."

For New Zealand, there's not much to lose at 1-0 down in a two-Test series. However, questions have been raised over whether they have the belief that they can beat Australia in the five-day format, a theory that the captain Daniel Vettori didn't entirely dismiss on the eve of the match. "Maybe in the Test match form of the game that's fair," Vettori told Radio Sport. " I think we've proved ourselves in the other forms of the game but Test matches has been the part of the game that we've struggled in. And coming up against one of the best teams in the world is a real test of that ability. Our ability to hang in there longer and persevere longer as we did on that fourth day [in Wellington] is the only way we're going to compete against Australia."

The match is also Vettori's 100th Test and at his home ground he will be desperate for a strong individual performance. New Zealand might need some Vettori brilliance to end their 17-year Test drought against Australia.

Form guide

Australia WWWWW
New Zealand LWDLW

Watch out for...

Most of the attention will surround Vettori but there is another Hamilton lad who could prove important for New Zealand. Brent Arnel bowled well on his Test debut with accuracy and subtle movement. Match figures of 2 for 120 don't look impressive but bear in mind no other New Zealand bowler took more than one wicket for the game. Arnel was chosen based on his first-class success and much of his cricket over the past few years has been played at his home ground of Seddon Park, so New Zealand will look to him for valuable contributions.

Doug Bollinger struggled in the one-dayers but turned his form around dramatically in the first Test, grabbing 5 for 28 in the first innings and seven wickets for the match. He extracted more bounce from the Wellington pitch than any other bowler and his ability to swing and seam the ball will make him a handful if Hamilton produces a surface with a touch of grass. New Zealand need a stronger first-innings effort to really challenge Australia and Bollinger is the key to ensuring that doesn't happen.

Team news

The Watson-Hughes swap is the only likely change for Australia. Marcus North eased doubts over his place with a century in the first Test and Ryan Harris' six wickets on debut means he will stay ahead of Clint McKay in the pace pecking order.

Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Simon Katich, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Nathan Hauritz, 10 Ryan Harris, 11 Doug Bollinger.

New Zealand's line-up is not quite so settled. Vettori said Jeetan Patel would play, while the teenager Kane Williamson was unlikely to make his debut. That would mean only one question remaining - Mathew Sinclair or Peter Ingram at No. 3? Ingram's lack of success during the series so far could mean a recall for Sinclair, who has the support of the batting coach Martin Crowe.

New Zealand (possible) 1 Tim McIntosh, 2 BJ Watling, 3 Mathew Sinclair, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Martin Guptill, 6 Daniel Vettori (capt), 7 Brendon McCullum (wk), 8 Jeetan Patel, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Brent Arnel, 11 Chris Martin.

Pitch and conditions

Two days out from the Test there was a lot of grass on the pitch and the outfield was moist but Vettori expected good playing conditions. "It's still quite dry," he said. "The greenness is probably misrepresenting the wicket. We've played here enough times to know that it will probably have a little bit in it early on, but it's not going to be anything too terrible. It may be a tough first session but I think it will get lower and slower as the game goes on." The forecast for the first day is fine and 24C.

Stats and trivia

  • Australia and New Zealand have met only once in a Test match at Hamilton, back in 1999-2000 when Australia won by six wickets. The only man from either squad who took part in that match was Mathew Sinclair
  • This match will be Daniel Vettori's 100th Test, while Simon Katich and Michael Hussey are each playing their 50th
  • Two of Vettori's five Test centuries have been scored at Seddon Park, where his Test batting average is 43.25


    "We can't afford to be on the back foot at any stage against Australia in Hamilton."
    Daniel Vettori

    "There's no doubt our bowlers put their top order under a lot of pressure. Our opening bowlers will pose the same questions this week of those guys." Simon Katich

    Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo