SYDNEY: Australia opened their home season with a cakewalk against Pakistan but New Zealand should present a much stiffer challenge when they look to end their 34-year wait for a second test series triumph in their neighbours’ backyard.
Boasting a line-up rated by at least one former Australia test player as the best the country has ever produced, New Zealand have rarely travelled across the Tasman Sea with such confidence that they can get the job done.
Kane Williamson’s experienced Blacks Caps head into the three-match series riding high in second place in the world test rankings behind India after recording their fifth successive series win at home, a 1-0 triumph over England.
“This New Zealand line-up is the greatest test team they have produced,” former Australia batsman Dean Jones wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald at the weekend.
“It’s a big call I know, but I feel they have the personnel that can beat Australia in the three-test series.”
New Zealand’s chances might depend on how they deal with the unknown with a day-nighter at Perth Stadium starting on Thursday before they move onto the more traditional Australian summer fare of test matches in Melbourne and Sydney.
Trent Boult’s side injury is a concern but New Zealand now boast real depth and should the stalwart paceman fail a fitness test it would probably mean a test debut for Lockie Ferguson.
The pace and bounce the 28-year-old can generate would appear tailor-made for Perth against Australia’s batsmen, who were virtually untested by Pakistan’s pacemen in the 2-0 trouncing with which they started their home season.