Big picture: Semi-final almost a lock for Trans-Tasman winner
Despite that, New Zealand can almost lock in a semi-final berth – defying predictions of many pundits – with a victory over Australia in another intriguing Trans-Tasman contest. But it won’t be easy with a rejuvenated Australia finally looking like the serious title contender expected of them after a shaky start to the tournament.
This match looms as a gauge of where both teams stand among the title race with some scepticism still surrounding them. While top four spots for Australia and New Zealand are entirely possible regardless of the result, there does seem to be a lot riding on this Trans-Tasman clash in a rivalry that usually delivers.
Australia WWWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWW
In the spotlight: Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Santner
Spinner Mitchell Santner has been a standout bowler in this tournament with 12 wickets at an economy of 4.25 and an average of 16.92. He has a good record against Australia, taking 17 wickets in 13 ODIs. His average of 26.41 and economy of 4.56 against them are better than his overall career marks. Santner will again be crucial in the middle overs and be relied upon to curb Australia’s big-hitting middle-order.
Team news: Head and Stoinis could return, New Zealand unchanged
Travis Head has had a few more days to recover from his hand injury and will be pushing for a return which would force a reshuffle of the top-order. He is set to open when he does come back – a position he had relished for some time before his injury – and replace Mitchell Marsh, who will shift down to number three. That forces Steven Smith, who has occupied No. 3 for the best part of a decade, to No. 4 with Marnus Labuschagne set to be omitted. Allrounder Marcus Stoinis might return after missing the match against Netherlands due to a calf niggle.
Australia (probable): 1 David Warner, 2 Travis Head, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Steve Smith, 5 Josh Inglis (wk), 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Marcus Stoinis/Cameron Green, 8 Pat Cummins (capt), 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Adam Zampa, 11 Josh Hazlewood
With Kane Williamson still working his way back from injury, New Zealand will likely go unchanged which means veteran seamer Tim Southee is set to again miss out having recently recovered from a thumb injury.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Devon Conway, 2 Will Young, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Tom Latham (capt & wk), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 Mark Chapman, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult
Pitch and conditions
Dharamsala has so far offered the fast bowlers the most amount of swing in the first 10 overs of each innings. In each of the four previous World Cup matches at the ground, the team winning the toss has elected to bowl. Sunny conditions are expected on Saturday with a maximum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius forecast in what should be pleasant conditions for the day fixture.
Stats and trivia
“I’ll do whatever the team wants. I’ve got a pretty good record at three, so I was a bit shocked in a way, but I’ll do what I need to for the team.”
Steven Smith on his likely move down to No.4 in the batting order.
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth