A tough ask without Fleming

Every player in the New Zealand squad must be at the top of their game to stand a chance in the second Chappell-Hadlee series.

Captain Stephen Fleming is recovering from cancer surgery and will miss the games in Auckland and Wellington. This is offset by the reselection of Chris Cairns and a fit Jacob Oram.

New Zealand has good all-round strength but it is the specialists that need to perform. Nathan Astle, Hamish Marshall and Craig McMillan have under-produced of late. With no Fleming to open, Astle must look to take on the raw Australian pace attack. Lou Vincent is expected to replace Fleming’s opening spot.

Ricky Ponting’s side will look to bat first and take New Zealand out of the contest. Adam Gilchrist and Ponting have been in ominous form and must be dealt with early to expose their less established middle-order.

The Australians have made more wholesale changes, introducing batsman Brad Hodge, resting Glenn McGrath while adding fast bowler Michael Lewis and spinner Brad Hogg.

Australia is sure to target stand-in skipper Daniel Vettori. Although only 26, he has played more than 150 ODI’s and 65 tests. Vettori was captain against Bangladesh earlier this year, but admitted he was seldom pressurized. He seems unfazed by the challenge and will be keen to stamp his own style.

A Vettori-Cairns brains trust will be a fresh change from Fleming’s long-standing approach. Nathan Astle has been appointed vice-captain but expect Cairns to have a strong influence out in the middle. Cairns’ experience and new determination could be New Zealand’s trump card.

With no McGrath, Brett Lee heads a slightly green attack short on international experience. The untested duo of Stuart Clark and Lewis will partner Lee. With the ninth World Cup just 16 months away, Australia is understandably looking to blood new talent. Conversely John Bracewell is basing his campaign on the squad for this series and has no such selection luxuries.

Shane Bond plays his first match against Australia since he took 6-23 in the last World Cup. He struggled in last month’s South African series, but should find some form at home. Bond, like Lee for Australia, will lead his side’s attack. If Bond does not take early wickets then New Zealand will struggle to contain the Australian batsmen.

If Bracewell has learnt from previous campaigns against Australia, winning the first match of a series is absolutely vital. Australia is most vulnerable at the beginning, and New Zealand must strike first if they are to win.

Australia have won the last 6 ODI’s, with New Zealand’s last victory in game one of the 2004-5 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. The truncated schedule will benefit New Zealand’s one-day unit, who have played more ODI’s recently than their counterparts.

December 3rd, Game 1, Auckland (D/N)
December 7th, Game 2, Wellington (D/N)
December 10th, Game 3, Christchurch (D/N)

Head to Head:
Played 97, Australia 68, New Zealand 26 (3 no result)

New Zealand (from): Daniel Vettori (capt), Nathan Astle (vice-capt), Lou Vincent, Hamish Marshall, Scott Styris, Craig McMillan, Jacob Oram, Chris Cairns, Brendon McCullum (wk), Kyle Mills, Shane Bond, James Franklin, James Marshall.

Australia (from): Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vice-capt, wk), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Mike Hussey, Simon Katich, Michael Lewis, Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Cameron White.

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