WELLINGTON: Two teams, no points. The Trans-Tasman T20 moves across the water with New Zealand and England looking to get on the board. Australia and the Australians were hard on both, as David Warner led a resurgent short-form side packed with BBL talent to three wins from three, guaranteeing them a place in the final. The identity of their opponent for the decider will be decided over the next seven days, across games in Wellington, Auckland and Hamilton.
New Zealand have faced scrutiny from within about their T20 set-up – in particular the role of captain Kane Williamson – and subsequently called a couple of new faces into the squad for the home leg of the series. Mark Chapman is the most intriguing, already an international with Hong Kong but now focused on the alternative path provided by his Kiwi father. Like Chapman, wicketkeeper Tim Seifert enjoyed a strong Super Smash and is set to take over wicketkeeping duties from Tom Blundell.
England’s back-to-back to defeats to Australia have exposed problems with their T20 approach, too – notably a misfiring batting order, albeit one missing a few key cogs. One of the absentees was pencilled in for a return in this game, but a court appearance in Bristol shortly after the Wellington T20 concludes will prevent Ben Stokes from making his international comeback just yet. Both teams are on a run of three consecutive defeats in T20I – New Zealand losing twice at home to Pakistan in January; England beaten by West Indies at the end of their summer – and both have injury concerns over their captains. But, barring an intervention by the weather, their fortunes are about to diverge.