Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Date: Friday, January 3 – Tuesday, January 7, 2020
This Test series – like all Test series between these Anzac rivals on Australian soil – has been won by the home nation after they picked up dominant wins in each of the first two Tests. The tour has been a disaster for a New Zealand team that crossed the Tasman with more hope and belief for a Test match series against Australia than at any point in recent memory. Instead of breaking the Australian grip, however, the Black Caps have suffered a pair of defeats by big margins and need something from this Test to restore a bit of pride before a three-match ODI series starts up in March.
After going down by 296 runs in the first Test, New Zeland was looking to the switch from a day/night game to the more traditional Test match timing to get back on track. The visitors won the toss and put Australia in to bat first, only to see their hosts roll to 467 tuns in 155.1 overs. Travis Head top-scored with 114 runs. Any hope New Zeland had of running down the total was extinguished by Pat Cummins who went 5/28 in his 17 overs as New Zealand were bowled out for a woeful 148 runs. The match was essentially over at this point with the second innings for each being a formality. Australia won by 247 runs.
Australia have called a second spinner into their squad for this match with Mitch Swepson in contention for a Test match cap. If the conditions are in the right place come the weekend then the Queensland leg-spinner will give the Australians the options of throwing out two top-end spinners in their bowling attack.
The Australian domination of this series has been so complete that it has probably even surprised some of the players in the team. There is no reason to change a winning formula, so expect to see the same batting lineup which, as a group, seems incapable of having a bad pair of back to back innings this Test season.
Trent Boult has had a frustrating end to 2019 with injuries and the New Zealand left-arm paceman is again injured and having to miss another Test date for his country here. After being out with a side strain for the first Test, Boult suffered a fractured right hand on day three of the second Test and flew home soon after the contest. He has been replaced in the squad by Will Somerville, with his right-hand off-spin and interesting option at the SCG. This is a ground that is usually one of the top spin-friendly pitches in Australia, so it is possible that Somerbille’s movement will give the Aussie batsmen something different to think about this weekend.
New Zealand needs to win the toss and bat first here to get some momentum going. The other consideration that that scattered showers and the smoke from bushfires could have major impacts on the length of play. If the rain chances pick up, then don’t be shy of playing the draw at 4.00 with BetXchange.