Australia will take on New Zealand in the second Test of the three-match series. The Australian bowling attack led by their talisman Mitchell Starc wreaked havoc to win the first Test by 296 runs. The fact that they picked up 20 wickets after losing one of their premier bowlers speaks volumes about their domination.
New Zealand will be disappointed to lose the game in the way they did, after all the hype of a close contest. But they would be happy with the performance of the ball. Under hot conditions which are alien to them, they bowled their heart out. The batsmen would be hoping to deliver to keep the Kiwis alive in the series.
The occasion for the game will be special as Melbourne gets ready to host a Boxing Day Test involving New Zealand after 32 years.
The weather forecasts suggest hot conditions with temperature in the range of mid-20s. A small spell of rain is possible on the fifth day of the Test.
There are question marks over the pitches in MCG. The last two Tests at the venue earned the ratings of average and poor. A recent Sheffield Shield game was abandoned due to a dangerous pitch. But the curators are confident to produce a sporting surface. The pitch will have plenty of grass at the top. It will help the bowlers to move the ball off the surface.
Average first innings score 458 (Last five Test matches)
Record of teams batting first: Won – 2, Lost – 1, Drawn – 2
Injury and Availability:
Australia – Peter Siddle will replace Josh Hazlewood
New Zealand – Kyle Jamieson will replace Lockie Ferguson
Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips: Probable Playing XIs
David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Mathew Wade, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon
Bench – Michael Nesser, Peter Siddle.
Jeet Raval, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls, BJ Watling, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult
Bench – Matt Henry, Tom Blundell, Todd Astle, Kyle Jamieson
Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips: Top Picks
Marnus Labuschagne and Steven Smith will shoulder the run-scoring duties for the home team. Opener David Warner would want to continue his good form. The return of Trent Boult will boost the confidence of the Kiwis. The experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor will be leading the charge with the bat.
Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips: Captain and Vice-Captain
Captain – Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Kane Williamson, David Warner
Vice-Captain – Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, Mitchell Starc, BJ Watling
Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips: Suggested Playing XI No.1
Keeper – BJ Watling
Batters – Kane Williamson (VC), Steven Smith, David Warner (C)
All-Rounders – Colin de Grandhomme, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head
Bowlers – Neil Wagner, Tim Southee, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon
Suggested Playing XI No.2 for Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips:
Keeper – Tim Paine
Batters – Joe Burns, Tom Latham, Steven Smith (C), Ross Taylor, David Warner
All-Rounders – Marnus Labuschagne (VC), Travis Head
Bowlers – Trent Boult, Neil Wagner, Mitchell Starc
Australia vs New Zealand Fantasy Cricket Tips: Expert Advice
With the pitch likely to have grass, it is advisable to have new ball bowlers in your side. Both sides have some quality bowlers, so be wise in deciding the composition. MCG is one venue where batsmen have scored big hundreds. So, top-quality batsmen like Kane Williamson, Steven Smith must be certainties in your squad.
Australia will be the clear favorites to win the game and series at the spiritual home of Australian sport.
The 2nd Test match between Australia and New Zealand will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne. The match starts at 11.00 AM local time (Midnight GMT)