The summer of Test cricket will conclude at the SCG from Friday, when Australia attempt to complete a series sweep over New Zealand.
There is no doubt that Tim Paine’s men have continued to improve with each performance this summer. A couple of shaky, albeit comfortable wins over Pakistan laid a credible foundation for the Aussies to completely outplay New Zealand, and their win in the Boxing Day Test was nothing short of outstanding.
For the Kiwis, it’s all about redemption at the SCG, but nothing short of a season-best performance will be required for them to compete effectively.
We had a couple of nice wins in our Boxing Day Test preview and I am confident of another lucrative betting match in Sydney. Understandably, Australia have opened as the clear $1.30 favourites to beat New Zealand ($9) in the third test.
Australia’s big issue since the retirement of the golden generation has been the lack of a sturdy top order. While there are still probably a couple of changes that could be made, the emergence of Marnus Labuschagne has seemingly steadied the ship, and there is literally no doubt that his enormous solo performances have been the key to Australia’s successful summer of cricket.
Labuschagne again looked on his way to a mammoth score in Melbourne, but an extremely luckless delivery that caught his elbow as it passed ultimately saw the twenty-five-year-old dismissed for 63. Rarely does he look like being dismissed and I don’t see any reason to divert away from our usual 1st innings high score tip.
As anticipated, Pat Cummins was the chief destroyer with the ball; taking five wickets in the 1st innings. He remains the most dangerous bowler in Test cricket, but I am eager to see what he will do on an SCG pitch that is widely anticipated to suit spin bowlers.
Back Marnus Labuschagne to score the most runs for Australia in the 1st innings @ $4
Back Nathan Lyon to take the most wickets for Australia in the 1st innings @ $4.50
It has been a disappointing campaign for the Blackcaps, particularly given the hype that surrounded their ability and prospects of winning the series.
Following a smart performance and win over England in their two-match series at home, it is fair to say that they have not fired a shot since arriving in Australia. Captain Kane Williamson’s inability to score runs is an excellent indication of his side’s overall inability to keep the pressure on Australia, and they are starring down the barrel of a likely third-consecutive defeat.
A lovely hundred from young opener Tom Blundell was a highlight for the tourists in Melbourne, while Neil Wagner continued to impress with the ball and will once again be key to his nation’s chances of competing with Australia in Sydney.
Back Ross Taylor to score the most runs for New Zealand in the 1st innings @ $4.50
Back Neil Wagner to take the most wickets for New Zealand in the 1st innings @ $3.25
Australia vs New Zealand Betting
As has been the case all summer, you can take advantage of a wide variety of Australia vs New Zealand betting options and markets here at Neds, ahead of the third test in Sydney.
Travis Head’s second career Test century was enough to see him into Man of the Match honours for the first time this summer and while he is sure to take plenty of confidence into this contest as a result, I’m eager to back a player further up the order again.
I find it simply impossible to look past Marnus Labuschagne. He’s enjoyed an enormous summer of cricket, and I think the he can and will cap the season with Man of the Match honours for a second time, at around the $9 mark.