SYDNEY                -       New Zealand haven’t won an ODI game in Australia for more than 11 years. Can Kane Williamson’s men build on their current form and correct that in the three-match ODI series?

New Zealand’s last victory in Australia came in February 2009. They’ve played four games since then – the final of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2015 and three ODIs in 2016-17, and were outplayed on each of those occasions. But they are currently in fine form as an ODI outfit, having clean swept India in a three-match series at home on the back of some clinical individual performances. They will hope that the experienced pair of skipper Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor can lead the way with the bat in Australia. Opener Martin Guptill has found some form, having notched up fifties in each of his last two outings.

With Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson and Matt Henry returning to the setup after having missed the ODIs against India, New Zealand’s management will be faced with some selection dilemmas in the fast-bowling department. Kyle Jamieson impressed in his debut series against India and New Zealand may have to make the tough call of dropping him. Tim Southee, whose white-ball numbers have been on the decline recently, may also face the axe. The visitors were beaten comprehensively in each of the three Tests in December-January, but their recent form in the 50-over format promises for a closely fought contest against their trans Tasman rivals.

Australia, meanwhile, were clinical in each of their international series for the past 12 months: a run that had begun with their away series win against India in March 2019. However, they were undone by a young South African side in a three-match ODI series recently, highlighting some key voids in their batting. The failure of skipper Aaron Finch, David Warner and Steve Smith magnified their middle-order woes, despite the promise shown by the ever consistent Marnus Labuschagne and D’Arcy Short.

The bowling, too, looked unusually ineffective against South Africa, but that could be attributed more to the opponent’s execution. The attack, led by the experience of pacemen Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc to go with the leg-spin expertise of Adam Zampa, have a chance to set that right in home conditions.

The teams last met at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 in a round-robin fixture at Lord’s. New Zealand seamers ran through half of Australia’s batting, reducing them to 92/5 in the 22nd over after Finch opted to bat. Usman Khawaja (88) and Alex Carey (71) did the rescue act, the latter being the aggressor in the 107-run stand. New Zealand fought back in the final overs, with Trent Boult’s hat-trick helping them restrict Australia to 243/9 at the end of 50 overs.