The first installment of the Chappell-Hadlee series is upon us, with game one beginning Sunday afternoon at the SCG.
The two teams lock horns for three games in the next week on Australian shores before renewing acquaintances across the ditch early next year. Every ODI series between now and June will be seen as an important build-up for the global tournament held in England, the ICC Champions Trophy, however there are more pressing concerns for this Australian side.
They haven’t won much recently, and while the public largely turns a blind eye to events overseas (especially in Asia), they won’t stand for consistent failure at home. The Aussie summer is something to behold, but pride of place in that summer is a successful international cricket team. Another series defeat at home, especially to foes from just across the sea, will not be tolerated. Indeed, such an occurrence would probably lead to Darren Lehmann being handed his P45.
Having said all of that, I think Australia will win this series. They’re the best ODI side in the world and are formidable at home. New Zealand have had two less days to prepare, they’ve had to travel, and they come here without many of their stars from the World Cup 12 months ago. McCullum, McCullum, Vettori, Elliott, Taylor, Mills, Anderson, Milne, McCleneghan and Sodhi are all players that have played a key part for them in recent times and are either retired, injured or surplus to requirements at this stage. Boult is coming off a minor injury and the rest aren’t exactly a terrifying prospect. Look out for Lockie Ferguson, a young Kiwi who bowls as quick, if not quicker, than Mitch Starc.
The Aussie side pretty much picks itself. Hastings can feel hard done by after picking up the most ODI wickets of any bowler on the planet in 2016, but the attack they go with on Sunday will look pretty strong. Starc, Hazlewood, Faulkner and Maxwell are pretty much locks then it probably comes down to two of Cummins, Marsh and Zampa. Head, Smith and Finch can all turn their arm over, and this gives Australia a very balanced side to get through their fifty overs should someone be getting carted all round the park. The batting lineup of Warner, Finch, Smith, Maxwell, Head, Bailey (unlikely all will play) and the lower order of Wade, Marsh, Faulkner, is as good as any in the world and they should have far too much for New Zealand.
I’m backing Australia fairly hard here and am happy to get on a whitewash too. The final game is the biggest risk as they may rest players, but I fancy they get the job done in Melbourne. From a top bat / bowl perspective, three game series are a bit of a lottery so stakes will be kept to a minimum, but I do have a few bets.
Matt’s best series bets
Australia to win the ODI Series, $1.40 Various: 4 units
Australia to win the ODI Series 3-0, $3 Various: 1.5 units
Southee top NZ bowler, $4.33 Bet365 / Lads: 1 unit
Ferguson top NZ bowler, $9 TAB / Lads: 0.5 units
Starc top Aus bowler, $3 Lads: 1 unit ($2.87 Bet365 / Sportsbet)
Guptill top NZ batsman, $4.50 TAB: 1.5 units ($3.75 Various)
Finch top Aus batsman, $4 Bet365: 1 unit ($3.75 Various)
Maxwell top Aus batsman, $10 Sportsbet: 1 unit ($9 Various)
Note: these bets were sent to Matt’s Sports Bets member earlier this morning, and hence the prices may have moved.
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