For the first time since February 2018, Australia will tour New Zealand for a five-match T20I series, starting from February 22. The Aussies were initially scheduled to tour New Zealand for a three-match T20I series in March 2020, but that plan was indefinitely postponed owing to the travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
A lot has changed ever since. Australia have toured England for a limited-overs series and have also hosted India for a full-fledged schedule. The Aussies have made several changes to their T20I squad, with Joshua Philippe in line to make his first international appearance.
With that being said, here I list down two players from each team who I think can live up to the potential during the upcoming T20I series.
The Aussie captain hasn’t really enjoyed much success in the shortest format of late - failing to cross the 20-run mark in nine of his last 10 appearances in the Big Bash League - thus the upcoming New Zealand series gives him an opportunity to work on his lost form. I believe Finch just needs to enjoy the game rather than putting too much pressure on his own shoulders, especially after his own admission that the harder he trained, the worst his form became. With the ICC T20 World Cup looming, I’m expecting him to put in a stellar performance.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is in the form of his life, and his peak couldn’t have come at any better time, to say the least. The 30-year-old has registered four half-centuries in his last six T20 outings, and this particular statistic is enough to lay down the challenge that he is going to bring. Arguably the most reliable batter of this generation, Williamson will most certainly be the primary threat to the Australian bowling attack, and I’m expecting at least three half-centuries from him in the five-match series.
Regardless of what has been said about Maxwell, the fact remains that he is one of the most destructive T20 batsmen out there. While the limelight will most likely be on the debutants, Maxwell’s performance will be under the hammer given that the Indian T20 League, as well as the T20 World Cup, are around the corner. Maxwell has had a decent Big Bash League season this year and I don’t personally see him struggling during the New Zealand tour as well. What I’m expecting is one or two blistering knocks from him lower down the batting order.
Now, this is a tricky pick. Trent Boult didn’t have much success in his previous T20I outings, which makes the upcoming series all the more important for the pacer. The 31-year-old not only went wicketless during the T20Is against Pakistan but also leaked 76 runs across two matches; that’s an economy of over nine. Australia’s visit will not be an easy outing either, but I reckon Boult will certainly improve his figures this time around.
Feature Image courtesy: AFP/ Greg Wood