Australia v New Zealand: Everything you need to know

Updated: 

Kane Williamson is hoping New Zealand do not gift any generous deliveries to birthday boy Steve Smith when the Black Caps face Australia in the Champions Trophy on Friday.

Australia skipper Smith will turn 28 on the day his side play their opening Group A fixture against New Zealand at Edgbaston.

Asked what kind of present Smith can expect from the Black Caps, a smiling Williamson told a news conference: "I didn't know it was his birthday. Hopefully not too many half-volleys.

"He doesn't need them. He's scoring plenty of runs."

Both New Zealand and Australia will know the importance of making a strong start, with host nation England and Bangladesh making up the other opposition in a challenging pool.

Smith insists his players will not be distracted by an ongoing pay dispute with Cricket Australia.

He said: "The guys have been great. We know that the ACA [Australian Cricketers' Association] is handling everything back home. And, for us, our focus is on this tournament and it needs to be, because we're coming up against some good opposition.

"It's a very cut-throat tournament and you need to be switched on the whole time, so the boys are focused on that."

 

KEY PLAYERS:

An obvious choice, maybe, but Smith is undoubtedly Australia's premier player and will hope to lead from the front once more.

If New Zealand are to prevail, much could depend on how Martin Guptill fares at the top of the order. One of only five men with a one-day international double-hundred to his name, having struck 237 not out against West Indies in 2015, Guptill has also made unbeaten scores of 189 and 180 in ODIs - the latter innings coming against South Africa this March.

 

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:

Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steve Smith (captain), Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Matthew Wade, John Hastings, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Corey Anderson, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan, Trent Boult.

 

LAST ODI MEETING:

New Zealand claimed a 2-0 series win on home soil against Australia at the beginning of 2017, winning the final match in Hamilton by 24 runs thanks chiefly to Trent Boult's six-wicket haul.

 

QUOTES:

"I don't think we'll end up going with the four big quicks. We've got a couple of options there as all-rounders. [Marcus] Stoinis did very well in New Zealand in the last series, and Hastings has done very well for us over in these conditions." - Smith indicates at least one of James Pattinson, Cummins, Hazlewood and Starc will miss out on selection.

"Martin Guptill is possibly our best white-ball cricketer and very destructive and playing very good cricket. Hopefully he can continue that." - Williamson has high hopes for New Zealand's star opener.

 

OPTA STATS:

- Australia have won all four of their previous encounters with New Zealand in the Champions Trophy.

- David Warner has averaged 51.3 across his 10 ODI innings versus New Zealand; recording centuries in his last two appearances against them.

- Ross Taylor needs to score 73 runs in this match to become the fifth NZ player to score 1,000 ODI runs against Australia.