New Zealand have won the toss and have decided to bat first in their Champions Trophy opener against Australia at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
The 2015 World Cup saw Australia and New Zealand as joint hosts, with both sides squeezing the maximum out of their home advantage. Both sides were unbeaten at home, which included matchups against each other; the group match which New Zealand won, as well as the final where Australia emerged as champions.
Matches between the two teams have always been fiery and in their last two series’ against each other, it was even once again. Australia came out on top at home and the Black Caps came out on top in New Zealand.
The last time the two sides met on neutral ground was at Edgbaston in the 2013 Champions Trophy, and the game was rained out, setting up the perfect scenario for a feisty replay at the same venue.
Australia haven’t been in the best frame of mind lately, coming off consecutive series defeats in all three formats; the ODI series against New Zealand, T20 series against Sri Lanka and the Test series against India. It’s been four months since their ODI side came together, and the only spurt of momentum they’ve received came in their warm-up match victory against Sri Lanka.
New Zealand are in a slightly better groove, coming off a successful tri-series against Bangladesh and Ireland, and winning their warm-up match against Sri Lanka, meaning that their ODI side has had some vital time together as a team.
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Swing will play a huge factor in the match and NZ have decided to go with four seamers to take full advantage of the England conditions.
‘Even cover of grass, it’s really hard. Expect the fast bowlers to get a lot of bounce and carry,’ said Shane Warne in his pitch report.
‘Should be exciting, given both sides are pace-heavy.’
Australia, have gone with a four-man seam attack, leaving out Adam Zampa as a spinning option.
Australia: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 David Warner, 3 Steven Smith (capt), 4 Moises Henriques 5Glenn Maxwell, 6 Travis Head, 7 Matthew Wade (wk), 8 John Hastings, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Pat Cummins, 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Luke Ronchi was preferred over Tom Latham. Australia opted for three pacemen and a spinner, leaving Colin de Grandhomme out of the lineup.
New Zealand: 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Luke Ronchi (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Neil Broom, 6 Jimmy Neesham 7 Corey Anderson, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Adam Milne 10 Tim Southee, 11 Trent Boult.
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Photo: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images