On Monday (22nd February), the hosts New Zealand and the visitors Australia will meet for the first game of the five-match T20I series at Hagley Oval (Christchurch). It will be the first T20I match for both these teams in this calendar year (2021).
The upcoming T20I match will be the first T20I meeting between New Zealand and Australia since February 2018. Meanwhile, this forthcoming T20I will also be their first international match since March 2020 (Sydney ODI), when the COVID-19 stopped the global cricket matches.
New Zealand vs Australia 2021, 1st T20I: Match Preview
The hosts New Zealand are ready to play their first T20I match in this new calendar year, which will be also their first limited-overs international match in 2021.
While it is the year of ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, New Zealand will take this format seriously, just like the other international teams. Captain Kane Williamson is currently in great form with the bat in hand, who is currently unstoppable. Apart from hitting non-stop Test centuries and even converting some of those to the double-centuries, Williamson has scored four fifties in his last six T20 matches.
Ahead of this T20I series opener, New Zealand have got very good news as experienced opener Martin Guptill is now fit to play international matches. But he has now need to prove his form with the bat, who is currently struggling to provide strong start in most occasions. So, the uncapped Finn Allen will now be unavailable for this T20I series (he could replace Guptill if the later ruled out due to injury), who finished as the leading run-scorer in the recently concluded domestic T20 tournament, Super Smash 2020/21 (512 runs in 11 innings)
The hosts also have the big hope with Tim Seifert, who won the Player of the Series award during the last home T20I series against Pakistan for finishing as the leading run-scorer (176 runs in 3 innings). However, in the recently concluded domestic T20 tournament, Seifert mostly failed to play big knocks.
Devon Conway is currently in very impressive form in T20 cricket. While he scored 63 runs during the Blackcaps last T20I against Pakistan at Wellington in last December, the left-handed top-order batsman scored four consecutive half-centuries in the last four T20s, including unbeaten 90s in the last two innings. In the Super Smash 2020/21, Conway finished as the second most run-scorer with 455 runs in 10 innings.
New Zealand also have the bowlers like Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Jamieson, Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Kane Williamson (C), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee
Recent T20I form (oldest to latest): Won, No Result, Won, Won and Lost
Just like New Zealand, Australia will also play their first T20I in this calendar year. While Aussies are desperate to end their waiting for the maiden T20 World Cup trophy in this calendar year, they will now have to take this format seriously.
In recent times, Australia are not consistent enough in this T20 format, majorly due to unavailability of some of their most crucial players in this format. Once again, they will miss David Warner and Steven Smith in this T20I format, who were included in the Test squad for the recently postponed South Africa tour, which was planned to be run simultaneously of this New Zealand tour.
However, Aaron Finch-led Australian team has some dangerous players in this T20 format, including Glenn Maxwell. Most of their latest T20I squad proved themselves in the recently concluded BBL 2020/21. However, Australia now have to prove as a T20I side.
Aaron Finch (C), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D’Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Recent T20I form (oldest to latest): Lost, Won, Lost, Lost and Won
New Zealand vs Australia 2021, 1st T20I: Match Prediction
While their last T20I meeting was in February 2018, Australia have won all the last three T20Is against New Zealand. But observing the present condition, the hosts New Zealand are favourite for this T20I series opener.