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New Zealand will host their Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in the 3rd T20I at the Hagley Oval on Wednesday.
The Kiwis came out on top in both the previous T20I encounters and have a great chance of wrapping up the series at Christchurch.
The Kane Williamson-led side defeated Australia by a comfortable margin of 53 runs in Christchurch, before Jimmy Neesham proved his all-round credentials in a high scoring but close affair at Dunedin.
Devon Conway stole the headlines in the first T20I, as the South African-born batsman narrowly missed out on a century. The Australian bowlers have been leaking runs throughout the series, which is clearly evident with the average score posted by the Kiwis in the first innings having been over 200.
The Aussie batsman improved their performance in the 2nd T20I, but failed to reach the mammoth total of 220. Australia will hope to grind out a victory in the 3rd T20I, in an attempt to save the series as a 0-3 deficit against any nation which does not bode well ahead of the upcoming T20 World Cup.
The pitch report suggests that a score in the region of 170 is par in the shortest format of the game here. The pitch has a substantial amount of grass which will offer help to the pace bowlers. The time batting second might have an upper hand in this fixture.
New Zealand started the series as the underdogs according to the odd makers, but after taking a 2-0 lead, they are now favourites to go on and win the 3rd T20I.
Martin Guptill was simply sensational in the last match. His 97 run knock laid the foundation for his team to go on and cross the 200-run mark. He scored at a strike rate of 194 and his innings were decorated with 6 fours and 8 sixes. One of the most underrated batsmen of his generation, Guptill is a true stalwart of the T20 format. He will be imperative to New Zealand’s chances of winning the 3rd match.
James Neesham has been extremely consistent in the two matches played so far. Mumbai Indians’ brand new acquisition has scored 71 runs in just 31 deliveries across the two matches. Players like Guptill, Conway, and Williamson have scored half centuries but none of them have made a valuable contribution in both matches. Moreover, Neesham defended 15 runs in the last over of the 2nd match and picked up a couple of wickets.
Marcus Stoinis was influential in Australia’s run chase in the 2nd T20I, but he couldn’t take the visitors across the finish line. The Aussie maverick scored a blistering 78 off just 37 balls in typical Stoinis fashion. After failing to break the shackles in the 1st T20I, Stoinis showed immense amount of grit and determination to keep his side in the contest while chasing a gargantuan total of 220. He can also play a vital role with the ball in hand.
Trent Boult has been a class apart compared to the other bowlers in the first two matches. While other pacers have conceded runs for fun, Boult has managed to keep his economy rate below 8. In the last match played at this venue, the left arm swing-bowler picked up 2 wickets for 22 runs in his 3 over spell. He will lead the attack for the Kiwis once again and can dictate the proceedings of the match on his day.
Daniel Sams is one of many all-rounders who will play a key role in this encounter. Sams has been quite expensive in his 8 overs so far, conceding 86 runs. But the Sydney Thunder star has also picked up 3 wickets; Martin Guptill on two occasions and Kane Williamson. The major reason for his inclusion in this section is his insane ability to finish games. His explosive knock of 41 runs in a mere 15 ball stay at the crease was breathtaking to watch in the last game.
Australia were rattled by the hosts in the first match, but came close to chasing down a massive total of 220 in the second encounter. While their batting has definitely shown signs of improvement over the course of the series, their bowling department needs to pull up their socks.
New Zealand have taken an emphatic 2-0 lead in the series and they will have to be considered favourites to win the 3rd fixture at Christchurch. There was a huge disparity between the levels of performance between the sides in the 1st T20I, which was also played at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch.
Another issue for the Kangaroos has been the lack of runs being scored by their top order. The Australian side looks strong on paper, but if their bowlers are unable to restrict the opposition batsmen, then they will have their back against the walls in the upcoming match. New Zealand are expected to win the game and take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 5-match series.