Australia won the first test of their series with New Zealand by 296 runs as their bowlers tore through the visiting lineup and they’re long odds on to win yet another Boxing Day test at the MCG starting very soon.
The Aussies took the game by the scruff of the neck with their first innings total in the day-night test, as Marnus Labuschagne’s 143 and Travis Head’s 56 gave them a solid platform before the Australian bowling attack, led by Mitchell Starc’s 5-52, gave the Aussies a huge first-innings lead that the visitors, despite the best efforts of Ross Taylor (80) with the bat and Tim Southee (5-69) with the ball, couldn’t pull back.
Australia are expected to do the same for this historic test – Just five of New Zealand’s squad were born when the team last graced the MCG on Boxing Day – but the match result isn’t of particular betting importance here, given Australia are all of 2/5.
The big issue in the build-up has been the pitch, which has been changed a lot since the 2017/18 Ashes test which saw both sides rack up huge totals in what was considered a bore draw – Australia won the series4-0 and this was where England looked to be their most competitive.
Since then the pitch has been dug up, with Cricket Australia digging up the concrete and replacing it with different soil and clay for drop in pitches. That has led to a great deal of movement on the pitch and New Zealand will be very much encouraged by the way that India tore through the Australian batting line-up last year.
There’s a lot of green on the pitch and it was so lovely that a Sheffield Shield match between Victoria and Western Australia had to be suspended just 19 days ago. It could be a test for the bowlers here, an area where both these sides probably feel strongest.
Mitchell Starc deservedly took the man of the match award after his nine wickets in the first test and will be a big threat with the ball as ever. He has fond MCG memories before, having scored 84 runs and taken four late wickets when Australia beat Pakistan in 2016, and he could be value for another man of the match award here.
Another player of interest is Pat Cummins. He didn’t get the rewards his bowling deserved in the first test, but he’s had an incredible year and his MCG record is exceptional. He took all four English wickets to fall here in 2017, and he took nine wickets when India won here last year, taking 6/27 in the Indian second innings. The top wicket-taker during the Ashes series, he was just outgunned with the ball by Mitchell Starc but still had a very solid series and the pair of them look worth backing for high player performances (1pt per run, 10 per catch, 20 per wicket), as well as man of the match honours.
1 pt Mitchell Starc Man Of The Match (8/1 Bet365)
1 pt Pat Cummin Man Of The Match (10/1 Bet365)
2 pts Mitchell Starc Over 120.5 Player Performance Points (5/6 Bet365)
3 pts Pat Cummins Over 119.5 Player Performance Points (5/6 Bet365)