12th over: New Zealand 112-1 (Conway 48, Williamson 21) Starc remains in the attack as the floodlights take full effect and it’s a superb over full of pace and swing, keeping the Black Caps honest and threatening the stumps with every delivery. That was the first time tonight ball looked on top of bat with the length deliveries coming off the pitch hard. Williamson is really chewing up some time now, he needs to motor.
11th over: New Zealand 109-1 (Conway 46, Williamson 20) Immediately after the mid-innings drinks break Williamson carts a Stoinis legside delivery over the square-leg fence in a statement of intent. The Aussie allrounder mixes up the remainder of his over and the variability makes him hard to line up and despite plenty of aggression the Kiwis have to settle for ones and twos.
It’s still dry as we hit the 7pm mark when the rain was due.
10th over: New Zealand 97-1 (Conway 42, Williamson 12) Starc returns after his opening over savaging, and does not concede a boundary. He almost does for Conway with a trademark heatseeking in-swinging toe-crusher, but the opener survives. At the halfway mark New Zealand are well set for a healthy total but they need to be careful they don’t lose too much momentum.
9th over: New Zealand 90-1 (Conway 37, Williamson 10) Zampa continues and his first four deliveries go for just three runs as this partnership hits the doldrums, only for Conway to seize the initiative and hammer a long straight handsome six. Zampa follows up with one that just clips the pad before bat with Conway pressing forward. He appeals with gusto, to no avail, but Finch reviews! Pitching in line… struck in line… bouncing over! Conway survives, but that was a narrow escape.
8th over: New Zealand 81-1 (Conway 30, Williamson 8) Zampa’s great mate Stoinis is thrown the ball again as the weather radar shows the rain cloouds reaching urban Sydney. Conway and Williamson are happy to deal in ones and twos with the latter (eight from 12) still yet to find his timing, especially to the off-pace deliveries. I wonder if New Zealand might reflect later on that another dasher might have been the order to replace Finn to maintain the ascendancy?
7th over: New Zealand 74-1 (Conway 26, Williamson 6) As the field spreads, Conway welcomes Adam Zampa to the attack by carving a sumptuous cover drive for four. The left-right partnership are then happy to deal in singles to keep the scoreboard moving.
6th over: New Zealand 65-1 (Conway 19, Williamson 4) Cummins begins his second over with a dot but Conway responds with an inventive bunt for four down to third, stepping to leg, then reaching to deflect a delivery barely on the cut strip. But without Allen at the other end the Black Caps are less explosive and Williamson is happy to soak up a couple of dots as the run-rate returns to something more realistic. It is still New Zealand’s highest ever World Cup powerplay total.
5th over: New Zealand 60-1 (Conway 14, Williamson 4) There’s a delay after the wicket as some glitchy signage is dealt with, robbing the match of some momentum, and increasing the potential damage of rain later-on. Eventually Hazlewood backs up his wicket with three dots to Williamson, hitting the deck hard and cramping the Kiwi skipper for room. Williamson doesn’t panic and guides some width behind point for four.
Australia’s best over of the night by a mile. Will it significantly shift the momentum?
Hazlewood returns. Allen advances. Ball beats bat. Stumps rearranged. Finn Allen’s magnificent innings ends on 42 from 16 deliveries. Excellent “if he misses you hit” comeback from the top-ranked bowler in T20 cricket.
4th over: New Zealand 56-0 (Allen 42, Conway 14) Marcus Stoinis is called on much earlier than he imagined, and after Conway strokes a couple through the covers there’s a shout for a catch behind but the ball clipped the batter’s grille, not his gloves, as a loopy bouncer arced through to Matthew Wade. Another dot follows, after a break in play for the bowler’s footholes to be repaired. Conway recognises he needs to rotate the strike, which he does, allowing Allen to sashay down the pitch and calmly loft a six-iron over the sight-screen. Majestic batting.
3rd over: New Zealand 46-0 (Allen 35, Conway 11) Can Pat Cummins change the momentum? Almost! After Conway gets off strike Allen fails to get all of a hook to a slower bouncer and it’s straight IN AND OUT of Zampa’s grasp at backward square leg. The ball trickles away for four and is subsequently belted to the opposite segment of the boundary with a glorious lofted cover drive. And now a classical pull for six, waiting back in his crease! This is Australia’s first choice pace attack, in Sydney, and Finn Allen is making them look village.
Robert Speed, who is definitely not from Perth, is not happy with Australia’s uniform. “Did Western Australia take the place of Australia in this tournament?” he asks with scorn. “Is green and gold not good enough for the Australian cricket team? They look like the sandgropers. It’s a disgrace.”
Australia have been in mostly black throughout the T-20 era, haven’t they? Baggy green caps in Tests, gold and green in ODIs, black and yellow in T20s.
2nd over: New Zealand 29-0 (Allen 19, Conway 10) The boundaries keep acoming for the Kiwis! Josh Hazlewood begins on Devon Conway’s pads and the number 88 (one of the all-time bingo calling numbers) tickles the delivery to fine-leg for four. Conway, a left-hander, then tips and runs to bring the right-handed Allen on strike. As he has all match so far Allen goes the tonk to length, but he can only skew a bottom edge to midwicket for another single. No bother, Conway skips down the track and checks an off drive to the long-off fence. Another single rotates the left-right strike and Allen capitalises on Hazlewood dropping a touch short and a smidgen wide with a punishing square cut that leaves the SCG turf blistered.
This is proactive, forceful, brilliant batting.
1st over: New Zealand 14-0 (Allen 14, Conway 0) Starc begins on a good line and length over the wicket to the right-handed Allen for a dot. The wicket is straw coloured and dry, and Allen believes it’s going to play truly, swatting the second ball for a one-bounce four over wide long-on, then a third ball six with an even cleaner smite. That was a beautiful clackety whack. A slower ball yorker denies a hat-trick of boundaries, but the SCG rope is bruised a delivery later with a straight drive that almost decapitated Conway at the non-striker’s end. A slower-ball bouncer ends the over with a dot that had a hint of a wide, but not called.
Superb start for the Black Caps!
The teams are out in the middle. Mitchell Starc has the new white ball in his hand. Finn Allen is on strike. Here we go!
Your umpires tonight are Adrian Holdstock from South Africa and Kumar Dharmasena from Sri Lanka.
The teams are out for the anthems. New Zealand lock arms in a retro-themed grey and black uniform. Australia stand side-by-side in a First Nations-inspired yellow top and black pants, the material of which is rustling as the wind howls across the SCG.
I’m here for commemorative tankards. New Zealand continuing to set the standards for off-field culture.
One of Australia’s key performers early on with the ball will be the accurate paceman Josh Hazlewood. He spoke to Simon Burnton recently about his long career on the fringes of T20 before his sudden ascendancy.
One thing that makes his explosive return to T20s all the more remarkable is that during his time in the wilderness he not only did not train specifically for it, he did not even watch the shorter-form games. “I don’t watch much cricket in general, to be honest,” he says. “If we’re coming up against Sri Lanka down the track I might watch a little bit of their games but usually there’s enough footage to watch in bowling meetings. So yeah, I hardly watch any cricket.”
James Wallace has picked out some names to pay close attention to over the next few weeks, and of those, Australia’s Tim David, is the one to watch tonight.
Born in Singapore but raised in Australia, David had a spluttering start to his career – a so-so stint with Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash and a handful of games for his birth country didn’t mark him out as anything special. All that changed in 2020-21 when he signed for Hobart Hurricanes and in modern cricketing parlance “started pulling up trees”.
Finn Allen gets the nod over Martin Guptill, and Mark Chapman has been favoured over Michael Bracewell. It is a less familiar XI for the Kiwis, reflecting the start of a changing of the guard for the Black Caps.
As expected, Steve Smith has been left out of the Australian XI in favour of Tim David. Cameron Green has yet to do enough to force his way into the line-up, but he is knocking on the door. It is a powerful batting order and fearsome bowling attack.
1. Aaron Finch (c)
2. David Warner
3. Mitchell Marsh
4. Glenn Maxwell
5. Marcus Stoinis
6. Tim David
7. Matthew Wade (wk)
8. Mitchell Starc
9. Pat Cummins
10. Adam Zampa
11. Josh Hazlewood
Aaron Finch is mindful of the weather and made the obvious choice to chase. He also reckons the pitch will improve later on. A phlegmatic Kane Williamson concurred with Finch’s logic.
Bands of heavy rain are drenching swathes of Australia’s east coast but Sydney’s inner-east has somehow managed to stay dry… for now.
We should start on time but thunderstorms are predicted from around 7pm, helped along by a gale that’s blowing across the SCG. It’ll then be in the lap of the gods whether a result can be reached.
Hopefully there’s enough play to entertain the sell-out crowd.
If you like tactics and strategy, Freddie Wilde from CricViz has everything you need in one handy Twitter thread.
The Australian perspective is, as ever, provided by Geoff Lemon, and true to form he reckons the defending champions will opt not to try and fix something that isn’t broken.
… for the T20 World Cup about to start, Bailey doesn’t have to do much other than press copy and paste from last year’s corresponding tournament. He can do so in the confidence that home conditions should, in theory, suit them and their style of play far better than the surfaces of the Arabian Gulf, where Australia’s quick bowlers went against orthodoxy and odds to take the tournament.
If you’ve yet to get your head around this event, fear not, because Simon Burnton has put down everything you need to know right here:
Hello everybody and welcome to the opening match of the Super 12 stage of the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Weather permitting, Australia vs New Zealand begins at the Sydney Cricket Ground at 6pm local time (8pm NZDT/8am BST).
The trans-Tasman rivals have been paired in Group 1, and will expect to compete for the two semi-final spots on offer with fellow heavyweights England. Afghanistan, Ireland, and Sri Lanka, will hope to have something to say on the matter as well, albeit with less expectation.
Ireland and Sri Lanka have already played three times this World Cup, successfully navigating the first round of group matches. Ireland prospered at the expense of West Indies, the two-time champions having been humiliated by both the Irish and Scotland.
Tonight’s match is a repeat of last year’s World Cup final when Mitchell Marsh, supported by David Warner and Glenn Maxwell, steered Australia to a comfortable victory. Both countries should again be among the favourites to reach the business end of the competition.
The Black Caps won three of six warm-up fixtures, the hosts three of eight, indicating neither have hit top form, and also that the top tier of international T20 is pretty even. Tonight’s winner will gain not only an important advantage in the group, but also a major psychological boost at the start of a wide-open tournament.
As always, you can contribute by sending me an email or directing any tweets to @JPHowcroft. With La Niña continuing to wreak havoc on Australia’s east coast, I might need your help getting through some rain breaks.