Australia are likely to change their T20 line-up in the hope of avoiding a series loss – and possible whitewash – to New Zealand.
Wellington’s Sky Stadium hosts game three of the series on Wednesday night after the Black Caps won in Christchurch and Dunedin last week.
Stand-in coach Andrew McDonald said top of mind was improving Australia’s efforts through the mid-innings.
“We haven’t got those middle overs right,” he said. “That may be a reason for us to reinforce that area or make some changes that potentially strengthen that area with both bat and ball.”
That could mean the exit of Ashton Agar, who is wicketless on his comeback from injury, or Adam Zampa, who has just one wicket from two games – a wrong’un that bowled Kane Williamson.
“They’ve played spin well at this stage,” McDonald said of New Zealand’s batters. “Agar has played two games in the last three and a half months as well so he’s going to be better every game that he plays.
“Zampa at this stage hasn’t gotten into the games ... [but] his quality over the last two years which suggests that the next game he probably will have an impact. It is an area that we do need to improve in if we’re going to compete and beat this Kiwi side.”
Riley Meredith would be an obvious inclusion for Australia should they shuffle the bowling attack, but McDonald said leaders held a strategy session on Monday night and devised a number of possible XIs.
“We’ve got a big squad of 18 players here ... every player that came on this tour (is) a live chance,” he said.
Batting changes are harder to pick. Several batsmen – Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Josh Philippe and Daniel Sams – have one great knock and one failure from the two matches.
Aaron Finch is out of form but the captain has been guaranteed a place by selectors. Matthew Wade is the wicketkeeper while Glenn Maxwell’s x-factor is hard to drop.
McDonald will join Finch and travelling selector George Bailey to make the line-up decisions after visiting the ground on Tuesday night. He said it was a “huge positive” the series was being played out in Wellington rather than heading north to Auckland and Tauranga.
The Australians are desperate to avoid quarantine on the way home, meaning they cannot travel to Auckland while it is designated a “red zone”.
“We feel for [those in Auckland] going back into lockdown and Eden Park is a great ground to play and it would have been a fantastic atmosphere, so probably a loss in terms of the big crowd,” he said. “In terms of us not having to quarantine on the way home in the current landscape is a huge positive.”
Follow every ball of the third T20 on Wednesday with the Hlcarpenter.com’s liveblog. Play in Wellington starts at 7pm local time/5pm AEDT.