2nd Test, Christchurch, March 08 - 11, 2024, Australia tour of New Zealand
162 & 372
(T:279) 256 & 281/7

Australia won by 3 wickets

Player Of The Match
98* & 10 catches
Player Of The Series
101 runs • 17 wkts

Can New Zealand celebrate their centurions with a bounce back victory?

A settled Australia remain unchanged but the home side are again left pondering their spin options

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan

Big Picture

New Zealand's home season will be defined by what happens over the next few days in Christchurch. If they can bounce back from the heavy defeat in Wellington to take a rare Test off Australia the summer will be considered a success and their position near the top of WTC table will be consolidated. Another defeat, which history suggests is the likelier result, and there will be plenty of questions lingering ahead of their next Test assignments in September which includes a one-off fixture against Afghanistan then away tours of Sri Lanka and India.
In many respects, the same could be said of Australia. If they leave New Zealand 2-0 it will mean six Test wins over the southern hemisphere season; a shared series, on the back of losing to West Indies at the Gabba, and they, too, will have much to ponder ahead of the showdown with India in November.
It would appear a long shot that New Zealand will find a way to topple their neighbours - something they have only managed once since 1993 - but it would certainly be a grand occasion to do so with two of their greatest players, Kane Williamson and Tim Southee, both bringing up 100 Tests. It's a bumper week for the milestone, with Jonny Bairstow and R Ashwin doing the same in Dharamshala.
With an eye to the future, the performances of Rachin Ravindra and Glenn Phillips in Wellington provided encouragement as did that of the now injured Will O'Rourke. There is excitement around Ben Sears, too, but a collective performance is needed over the next few days.
Australia are not without their issues. The bowling attack is doing a lot of heavy lifting at the moment with the top-order returns something that now can't be brushed over. Cameron Green's century in Wellington was a big moment for the re-shaped order, but a couple of other centuries wouldn't go amiss in Christchurch with a lot of time ahead to stew on whatever uncertainty remains before next summer.

Form guide

Australia WLWWW (last five Tests, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWL

In the spotlight: Tom Latham and Alex Carey

It is almost a year (six Tests) since Tom Latham has reached fifty, which came at this ground against Sri Lanka, and he hasn't scored a century since December 2022 against Pakistan in Karachi. New Zealand need more from their senior opener. In the first innings in Wellington he was in two minds whether to play or leave Mitchell Starc then in the second top edged a cut against a short ball from Nathan Lyon.
Maybe Alex Carey needs to find a swimming pool? Jokes aside about the upturn in form he found after the unfortunate slip on Australia's tour of Pakistan in early 2022, this is shaping as a very important Test for the wicketkeeper. He has credit in the bank - there were some useful innings during the home summer - but it could be running low, particularly with the manner of his dismissals in the first Test. The good news for him is that his work with the gloves remains very tidy. However, if he doesn't score runs in this game it will be one of the talking points through to November with Josh Inglis breathing down his neck.

Team news: Ben Sears to debut, Australia unchanged

A debut has been confirmed for Ben Sears so the final decision for the home side is whether to bring in left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner or retain four quicks. They have been burnt twice in two games by omitting Santner, but Hagley Oval has a spin-bowling average of 55.79 - by far the highest in New Zealand.
New Zealand 1 Tom Latham, 2 Will Young, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Rachin Ravindra, 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Tom Blundell (wk), 7 Glenn Phillips, 8 Mitchell Santner/Scott Kuggeleijn, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Tim Southee (capt), 11 Ben Sears
Australia will be unchanged meaning their bowling attack will go through seven Tests unchanged since mid-December,
Australia 1 Usman Khawaja, 2 Steven Smith, 3 Marnus Labuschagne, 4 Cameron Green, 5 Travis Head, 6 Mitchell Marsh, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Josh Hazlewood

Pitch and conditions

Hagley Oval produces excellent Test surfaces that can offer some encouragement for the quicks but plenty of potential run-scoring. There has been just one draw in 12 Tests at the venue. The forecast is set fair for the duration of the match and warming up over the weekend.

Stats and trivia

  • Mitchell Starc needs two wickets to go past Dennis Lillee into fourth on Australia's all-time list
  • New Zealand have lost just two of 12 Tests at Hagley Oval: against Australia in 2016 and South Africa in 2022
  • Tom Latham needs 28 runs to go past John Wright into sixth among New Zealand's all-time scorers
  • Steven Smith's current stretch of 19 innings without a hundred in his longest since the wait from his debut to his first century (22 innings)
  • Quotes

    "As a side where we're disappointed with last week, but we also realized that we've played some pretty good cricket as a side over the years as well and especially at this ground. There's full belief within those four walls that we can get the job done over the next five days."
    Tim Southee
    "I think the trend is it starts off really green and it obviously gets a bit flatter. It's not like a Gabba green wicket day one where it's going to seam all over the place. I think they still play pretty truly here. It can be a little bit misleading at times, I think. It looks like a good wicket. It always seems to be pretty consistently good here."
    Pat Cummins

    Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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