Bet365, which you can read about in this local review, now has New Zealand as hot favourites to win the series, which is a prelude to the two-match Trans-Tasman series beginning at Basin Reserve on 12 February, in which Australia are hoping to regain their world No.1 ranking (Want to bet on it? Check out Guts.com Australia review here).
However, in this opening ODI match of the tour the Aussies once more showed that they are not the same side away from their shores as they are at home with a startling batting collapse that saw them lose 6-41 inside 10 overs to be eventually all out for 148 chasing the Black Caps’ competitive total of 307.
This was the first time in an ODI that Australia had been dismissed inside 25 overs. The Australian top order found itself unable to cope with the accurate swing bowling of Trent Boult (3/38 off 7 overs) and Matt Henry (3/41 from 6).
Matters were not aided by a disastrous DRS non-referral when David Warner was given out LBW for 12 to a ball that was missing the stumps by some margin. However, after consultation with non-striker George Bailey, he decided not to send it upstairs and walked off.
Earlier, New Zealand had posted a seemingly slightly below par score of 307, with the highlight being Martin Guptill’s 90 off 76 balls. It was an innings that included a massive six measured at 113 metres and which only came to an end with a run out after a brilliant piece of fielding by Glenn Maxwell
A typically cavalier 44 from soon-to-be ex-skipper Brendon McCullum added to the score on the small ground.
The main talking point, however, was the inability of the Australian top order to build partnerships and a hectic opening New Zealand spell that saw wickets falling at regular intervals.
Shaun Marsh’s place again looks in danger after he was caught behind for only 5, while Bailey, Maxwell, and Mitchell Marsh batting at nos. 4, 5 and 6 respectively could manage only 2 runs between them. Captain Steve Smith hinted after the match that changes would be made to the batting line-up for the next game.
The only real batting resistance came from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (37 off 38 balls) and all-rounder James Faulkner (36 off 33), although Australia’s cause has not been helped by the latter being forced to return home with a hamstring injury he sustained during the match.
Despite the Black Caps’ convincing win in this match, Bet365 has installed Australia as slight favourites to win the second ODI encounter in Wellington on 6 February, although Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill are joint favourites to be the highest scorers in the match.
However, what this match has shown is that the forthcoming Test series to be played in New Zealand conditions, rather than on the flat decks in Australia, will continue to expose flaws in the batting techniques of the visitors (as happened to them in the Ashes series in England in 2015) and that the odds on the Black Caps taking out a series victory will be shorter than at any time in recent years.