New Zealand should aim for stunning reversal in Perth

The pace and bounce that found New Zealand short at Gabba will feature in the upcoming Test at the WACA as well. New Zealand will have to utilise the characteristics to their advantage to chalk out a series-levelling victory.

Mitchell Johnson defeated New Zealand's top order by pace to help Australia get on top early in Brisbane. He will be a similar threat on Perth's pacy wicket.   -  Reuters

Brendon McCullum played a confident, attacking innings of 80 in New Zealand's second innings in Brisbane.   -  AP

The healthy pace and bounce that eventually found New Zealand considerably short at Gabba has likely served as a teaser for what is to follow. The Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) ground has largely had similar characteristics to Gabba, but the wicket is reputedly even faster. And with the pitch getting back to the pace it had in the 1970s, at least according to the pitch curator, New Zealand will gear up to further be tested along the same lines. While the touring unit showed some spark in bursts in its batting, the bowling lacked bite to rattle Australia. They will want to change that in the second Test at Perth Friday onwards.

While jump and velocity are expected to aid bowlers, the true bounce will also be the batsman’s friend. The last Test played here, in the Ashes a couple of years ago, had the competing teams putting up respectable totals, and Australian bowlers utilised attrition considerably to get a convincing yet hard-working win. This indicates there is hope and opportunity for New Zealand’s top order to set in and make hay, as Kane Williamson and Brendon McCullum had done last week.

But the bowling will need to rev up. Three fast bowlers and an all-rounder fielded at Gabba may become four fast bowlers at WACA as Jimmy Neesham has travelled back home owing to an injury. Tim Southee, who McCullum has indicated should to be fit for the Test, will partner Trent Boult as the leaders of the attack. Two of right-arm pacer Matt Henry, Doug Bracewell and Neil Wagner may play, with Mark Craig the lone spinner.

The yield of eight wickets for 820 at Gabba put their team behind for the entire Test. A changed, warmed-up attack will hope to put up a better show, to allow for a comeback in three-Test series.

Australia’s captain Steve Smith has confirmed they will field the same XI. This will mean the two left-arm fast bowlers Mitchells Starc and Johnson will play, with Josh Hazlewood proving them seam support. Peter Siddle is again to be benched.

New Zealand have shown a quality to improve as time wears on in a series, eventually peaking at the death. They did it against England earlier in the year, and against Pakistan late last year. To turn the tables, they will need to make one of the last few Tests hosted at the iconic venue memorable.

Teams (likely):

Australia: Joe Burns, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (c), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (c), B. J. Watling (wk), Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Matt Henry/Neil Wagner, Trent Boult.

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