Cricket

Australia unchanged for first Test against New Zealand, Boult doubtful

New Zealand’s Trent Boult bowls. File

New Zealand’s Trent Boult bowls. File   | Photo Credit: AP

Kane Williamson said the team’s training session in Perth late on Wednesday would likely determine the availability of Boult, who had managed to get through training on Tuesday.

Skipper Tim Paine says Australia will benefit from the oppressive conditions tipped for their series opener against New Zealand starting on Thursday, as he flagged an unchanged side for the match at Perth Stadium.

Australia come into the three-Test series on the back of a dominating 2-0 win over Pakistan that featured innings victories in Brisbane and Adelaide.

Australia struggled after last year’s damaging ball-tampering scandal saw Steve Smith and David Warner suspended for a year but they have started to find continuity again, with the same XI likely to be used for the third straight Test.

“I think were going in with the same team,” Paine told reporters on Wednesday. “We’ve been playing some really good cricket. We’re trying to get a consistent team together.”

Searing conditions are forecast for the inaugural day-night Test in Perth with the first four days expected to hit near 40 degrees Celsius (104°F).

“We thrive on these conditions,” said Paine. “I think it can be a real advantage to us. Hopefully we can see some pace and bounce like last year.

“There is going to be some extreme heat. Perhaps it will break up and crack up and be difficult to bat in the backend.”

Having beaten Pakistan with the pink ball in Adelaide, Australia will be aiming to stretch their unbeaten day-night run to seven.

“You want to be bowling as much as you can with the lights on,” Paine said. “During the day it’s about being really disciplined and really patient.”

Boult injury worry

New Zealand's Trent Boult remains a doubt for the first Test against Australia due to a side injury but captain Kane Williamson says he will give the pace spearhead every chance to prove his fitness.

The tourists are sweating on the fitness of their ace quick with the pink ball used in the inaugural day-nighter at Perth Stadium set to suit Boult’s penchant for swing.

Williamson said the team’s training session late on Wednesday would likely determine the availability of Boult, who had managed to get through training on Tuesday.

“We’re going to have another look at (Boult) today before deciding anything tomorrow,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“I think you look at it as a long-term decision in terms of this whole series. He has tracked really nicely and felt really good yesterday.”

Williamson was more confident in the injury status of veteran batsman Ross Taylor (thumb) and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme (abdominal muscle).

“Ross is fine, just a bit of a knock but nothing major. Colin is tracking nicely,” he said.

Uncapped fast bowler Lockie Ferguson could make his Test debut on an expected fast, bouncy Perth pitch, which is expected to deteriorate with fierce heat forecast for most of the match.

“It’s exciting we’ve got Lockie in our squad to consider him,” Williamson said. “It’s exciting to have a guy in our camp who can bowl at that speed.”

Black armbands

Both teams are to wear black armbands as a tribute to the victims of New Zealand’s White Island volcano eruption and Williamson said the news had been a shock.

“It’s very hard to comprehend. When a tragedy like this happens its such a shock,” he added.

Team: David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 6:51:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/australia-unchanged-for-first-test-against-new-zealand-boult-doubtful/article30275710.ece

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