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New Zealand, missing key personnel, set for Chappell-Hadlee title defence

Wisden India logo Wisden India 3/12/2016

New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson will be facing an Australian team keen to end their five-match barren run. © AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal New Zealand's captain Kane Williamson will be facing an Australian team keen to end their five-match barren run. Having snapped their losing streak in Tests, Australia will be looking to end their five-match barren run in One-Day Internationals when they host New Zealand in the limited-overs Chappell-Hadlee series, which starts on Sunday in Sydney.

Australia head into the three-match series on the back of the 2-1 Test series loss to South Africa, while New Zealand arrive fresh from a 2-0 Test sweep against Pakistan.

While the hosts may have won the ICC World Cup 2015, their lack of depth in the format was evident during the 5-0 series loss against South Africa in October. However, Australia will be boosted by the return of their frontline bowling duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, both of whom were rested for the South Africa series.

With Pat Cummins, who has not played international cricket since September last year due to injuries, returning to the mix, Australia can boast of a formidable pace trio.

Starc’s importance with the ball is only matched by that of David Warner with the bat. Despite Australia’s ODI slump in 2016, Warner and Steven Smith, the captain, have been two of the most prolific run-scorers in the format in 2016. Warner leads the batting charts for the year with 1089 runs in 20 matches at an average of 57.31, while Smith is second with 918 runs at 45.90 in 23 outings.

Australia will also be buoyed by the return of James Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, who last played an ODI during the tour of the West Indies in June.

In happier times: Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell celebrate wicket. © Provided by Wisden In happier times: Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell celebrate wicket. Maxwell, however, will have to shrug off all the criticism for his comments about Victoria and Australia teammate Matthew Wade’s captaincy. Smith suggested that the issue wouldn't have any bearing on Maxwell's selection chances for the Sunday ODI and that the allrounder was remorseful.

"He was a little bit shattered with what he said. I don't think he thought the words came out the way they actually did, but we've moved on from that now. We've fined him and expressed our disappointment, but moving on and trying to focus on this game tomorrow."

The trans-Tasman rivals have played each other thrice since Australia's victory in the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 2015, with New Zealand prevailing in the 2015-16 edition of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy 2-1.

Ahead of the series opener, Smith conceded that Australia will have to be at their best to avenge the series loss.

“They've got some dangerous players up top,” said Smith. “(Martin) Guptill and possibly (Tom) Latham, and some experience in the bowling line-up with guys like (Tim) Southee and (Trent) Boult and a bit of pace in this young fellow I've heard about, (Lockie) Ferguson. I've seen a bit of footage of that.”

New Zealand are missing two of their key batsmen in Ross Taylor and Corey Anderson, leaving Kane Williamson to carry the captaincy and batting load. They are without key personnel on the bowling front too, with Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan missing out due to injuries, while Ish Sodhi, the legspinner, and Luke Ronchi, the wicketkeeper, have been left out. Boult, who has been included in the squad, sat out of the last Test against Pakistan with a knee injury.

Colin de Grandhomme and Jimmy Neesham, both allrounders, could be included to provide New Zealand with six bowling options. Colin Munro might be slotted in at No. 4 to bolster the middle order in the absence of the experienced Taylor.

One of New Zealand’s secret weapons to unsettle the Australian top order is expected to be Ferguson, the right-arm pacer, who is one of two new players in squad alongside Todd Astle, the legspinner. Ferguson, 25, bowls consistently above 140kph and occasionally tops the 150-mark, which sets him apart from New Zealand's trademark stable of medium-fast bowlers. However, Ferguson and Matt Henry could be in the contest for one spot.

If New Zealand, currently ranked third in the ICC ODI rankings, secure a 3-0 whitewash, they could replace Australia as the No. 1 ranked side, but Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, insisted that retaining the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy would be enough.

“We won the Chappell-Hadlee the last couple of times, it's really important for us,” he said. “Australia are our big brothers and winning a bilateral series against them is important. If the by-product of that is an increase in the ranking, then great.”

Teams (from)

Australia: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Aaron Finch, George Bailey, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Hilton Cartwright, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Adam Zampa.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (capt), BJ Watling (wk), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, James Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee.

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