High-flying Australia eye series win against resurgent New Zealand

High-flying Australia will be eyeing a series win against low-on-confidence New Zealand when the two sides will face off in the second Test of the three-match encounter, starting from Thursday in Melbourne.

The home side are leading the series with a 1-0 score line after managing to register a thumping 296-run triumph in Perth 10 days ago, therefore, they will enter the match hoping to produce the similar kind of performance which should be good enough to seal the title.

The Kangaroos team management have been forced to make at least one change in the starting XI with pacer James Pattinson set to replace injured Josh Hazlewood.

However, citing warm weather in the city, coach Justin Langer has hinted that a fifth bowler in the playing XI cannot be ruled out to share the burden.

In the batting department, hosts will be relying on in-form Marnus Labuschagne, opener David Warner and right-hander Steven Smith to score bulk of the runs whereas on the bowling front, the onus will be on the likes of right-am pacer Pat Cummins, left-arm fast-bowler Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon to produce timely breakthroughs.

On the other hand, the Black Caps will be coming in this match relatively low on confidence after suffering a rather unexpected thrashing in the series opener.

However, there is some positive news for the Kiwis on the injury front where left-arm pacer Trent Boult is set to return to starting XI in place of injured Lockie Ferguson.

In the batting department, the visitors will be relying on the likes of captain Kane Williamson, veteran middle-order batsman Ross Taylor and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling to score bulk of the runs whereas on the bowling front, the onus will be on the pace-trio of Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner to produce the timely breakthroughs.

The game will be played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) which will be hosting its 111th Test match.

Australia have the record for the highest total of 624-8 in an innings while playing at the MCG which they registered in 2016 in the match against Pakistan, courtesy centuries from Smith and Warner.

Lowest total of 36 at the venue was registered by South Africa in the match against the home team back in 1931-32.

Highest individual score of 307 in the five-day format at MCG was registered by Australia’s Robert Maskew Cowper in the match against England back in 1966. Till now, he is the only batsman to have scored a triple-century at the ground in Test cricket.

Best bowling figures of 9-86 in an innings in the five-day format while playing at the MCG was registered by Pakistan’s fast-bowler Sarfaraz Nawaz in 1979 whereas best figures of 15-124 in the match was claimed by England’s left-arm spinner Wilfred Rhodes back in 1904.

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