Birmingham: After their meek surrender against England in their opening game, a struggling Australia will have to work on their batting frailties when they take on a confident New Zealand in a Group A match of the Champions Trophy on Wednesday. Clarke to miss crucial tie against Kiwis (JPN/Agencies)
Australia, sans their regular skipper Michael Clarke, proved to be no match to the English side as they suffered a huge 48-run defeat to start their campaign on a wrong foot.
Litmus test for skipper George Bailey
With Clarke, who is suffering from a back problem, still nowhere near making a comeback, it will be a big test for the stand-in skipper George Bailey to turn Australia's fortune around.
Australia bowlers Clint McKay, James Faulkner and Shane Watson did a decent job in restricting England to 269 when they were looking at a 300-plus score at one stage but they still need to add more sting to their attack.
The Aussie batsmen could not pose any threat to the England bowlers, who strangulated them with both pace and spin.
Barring skipper Bailey and allrounder James Faulkner, none of the batsmen were up the mark. What was baffling was most of them got starts but later blew those away.
Aussies need to re-think on team composition
The two-time champions, hence, will have to re-think about the team composition as another defeat will pave their way for an early exit from the tournament.
"We need to get the balance right, we need to get partnerships going, that needs to be addressed. We have to turn around things," Bailey had said after their loss to England.
Kiwis started campaign with win over Lankans
New Zealand, on the other hand, are high on confidence having started their campaign on a winning note, beating Sri Lanka by one wicket.
The 2000 winners came into the tournament after a morale-boosting 2-1 series win over England and they would look to carry their good form when they clash with Australia.
Left-arm medium pacer Mitchell McClenaghan, pace spearhead Kyle Mills and their part-time spinner Nathan McCullum did a wonderful job, sharing eight Sri Lakan wickets among them in their opener and skipper Brendon McCullum will expect a similar effort on Wednesday as well.
However, the Kiwis will have to work on their batting as they would not want the job to be left till the last man, the way it happened against the Sri Lankans.
NZ opener Guptill enjoys a good form
New Zealand have an able opener in Martin Guptill, who smashed two consecutive hundreds in the England series, while their batting mainstay Ross Taylor also have been in good form ahead of the champions Trophy.
Brendon too on his day can demolish any attack but his batsmen panicked during their chase against Sri Lanka in the low-scoring match and this is one area, the skipper would want his team to improve.
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (C), Doug Bracewell, Ian Butler, Grant Elliott, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Luke Ronchi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson.
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, George Bailey, Xavier Doherty, Phillip Hughes, Clint McKay, Glenn Maxwell, Adam Voges, David Warner.
Birmingham: After their meek surrender against England in their opening game, a struggling Australia will have to work on their batting frailties when they take on a confident New Zealand in a Group A match of the Champions Trophy on Wednesday.
Clarke to miss crucial tie against Kiwis