Australia will be looking to continue its T20 fortunes tonight as the Aussies take on the Kiwis in the first match of the Super 12 stage.
Having won the tournament in the cover of darkness on the other side of the world last time around the Aussies are wanting to show their home fans just how good this side can be.
It looks like there will be just one change from the side that won the 2021 World Cup final with Steve Smith making way for the former Singapore international Tim David who has set the world alight over the last 12 months.
While there may be some weather around this evening in Sydney it certainly looks like there will be enough overs bowled to constitute a match.
With just two teams getting through from each group and both finalists from last time coming up against each other to start the tournament we could certainly see some surprising results.
T20 cricket is becoming more and more match-up based in a similar vein to baseball. The Aussies have made the most of the match-ups recently winning three of the last four matches against the Kiwis. The following are five match-ups that will be crucial if Australia is to get over the line tonight.
Data is from all T20 matches
David Warner v Trent Boult
60 balls, 59 runs, two wickets, 29.50 average.
The battle of the left-handers will be key as Australia's player of the World Cup from 2021 looks to make an impact at the top of the order while the Kiwi's weapon tries to put his side on top early.
In the T20 World Cup final last year, Warner made 53 from 38 against the Kiwis before being removed by Trent Boult. The ball was on a length and crashed into the stumps as Warner attempted to pull a ball that was too low.
Australia's opener has passed 50 in two of his last three innings against the Kiwis however only one of those matches has been in the last three years. Whoever wins this early battle will have the upper hand especially if Boult can remove Warner early and apply pressure to Aaron Finch.
Mitch Marsh v Mitchell Santner
30 balls, 40 runs, one wicket, 40 average.
The big West Australian all-rounder will likely move into the number three spot with Steve Smith missing out and as a result, will be key in the middle overs. Santner is almost the king of that period for New Zealand slowing the run rate down and going at just 6.64 runs per over, in the last year.
Marsh though has managed to get a hold of the left-armer in the past striking him for forty runs from 30 balls while most importantly only being removed once.
The test for Marsh though will come with a weakness against left-arm spin that has seemed to develop. In 2021 he was removed six times by left-arm orthodox spinners and scoring at just 7.2 runs per over.
Glenn Maxwell v Tim Southee
43 balls, 84 runs, three wickets, 28 average.
It's a high-risk high reward strategy for the Aussie big hitter against what is possibly New Zealand's greatest-ever fast bowler. With Maxwell now likely coming in at four, he will have more responsibility and it will be interesting to see if he will slow down the run rate.
Maxwell is a little bit of trouble at the moment though having not passed double figures in his last seven innings and even worse having not struck a half-century since March of 2021.
If he can face a couple of overs from Southee, especially at the end of the innings there is a good chance Australia get close to 200 but then against Southee is a class operator who could easily swing the ball around the bat of Maxwell especially if he finds himself in during the powerplay.
Josh Hazlewood v Kane Williamson
17 balls, 17 runs, one wicket, 17 average.
Williamson is the big fish in the Kiwi batting line-up and as perhaps the Kiwi's greatest-ever batter he will be feeling the pressure going into this World Cup.
Williamson has been scoring very slowly of late failing to get anywhere near a strike rate of 120 in the last 12 months and having an overall strike rate of just 123 in his T20I career. More recently though he's tried to change the tune scoring 59 from 38 against Pakistan at Christchurch.
Hazlewood is one of the most improved bowlers in the world over the last 12 months and has dominated both the IPL as well as the last T20 World Cup. Whoever wins this battle will push their side's claims forward a long way.
Adam Zampa v Kane Williamson
48 balls, 46 runs, two wickets, 23 average.
The most intriguing matchup of the match will be the spin of Adam Zampa who took 3 wickets last world cup at an average of 12 coming up against the Kiwi captain.
While he's taken just two wickets against Williamson in the past Zampa will be confident of keeping things really tight, especially on his home ground of the SCG. Interestingly though Williamson has averaged 42.4 against leg spin in his career, a number that is almost cut in half against Zampa.
It will be interesting to see if Zampa comes on as soon as Williamson walks out at number three or if the Aussies hold him back and hope that the pace trio can keep Williamson scoring slowly for a little while at least.
Australia may come into this match as favourites but with some weather around and some Aussies out of form, this is anyone's match to win. This may be the first match of the Super 12 stage but it could determine who finishes on top of this group.
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