Adelaide - Mitchell Starc looms as
Australia's big weapon with the all-new pink ball as Test cricket ventures into
the unknown with the first ever day-night Test against New Zealand in Adelaide
starting on Friday.
The performance of the ball, and the
success of Test cricket under floodlights, will be closely watched in what
could be a breakthrough in attracting more fans to the struggling five-day
Ticket sales have been promising, with a
first-day crowd of up to 40 000 expected - compared with 16 000 the last time
the two sides met in Adelaide in 2008. TV audiences should also be higher with
play continuing until 21:00 local time.
The first day-night match in 138 years of
Tests is one of cricket's rare innovations, and follows the advent of one-day
internationals in the 1970s and the glitzy Twenty20 format in the last decade.
Tactics are expected to be dramatically
affected with the new ball, coloured pink to help visibility, expected to swing
freely during the night session - conditions which should bring Starc to the
Starc, Australia's premier paceman since
Mitchell Johnson retired after the second Test in Perth, grabbed three wickets
with lively swing in an evening session of a domestic Sheffield Shield match in
Adelaide earlier this season.
Starc also bowled the fastest ever Test
delivery of 160.4kilometres per hour during the drawn second Test, and he could
be crucial as Australia look to seal the three-Test series.
"It usually swings with the new ball
and also under lights it tends to swing a little bit more," Australia
spinner Nathan Lyon said of the pink ball.
"I'm a big fan of bowling with the
pink ball because they (batsmen) can't see the seam so it's going to be
Australia hold a 1-0 lead after winning by
208 runs in Brisbane, meaning the Kiwis can level the series if they win in
Black Caps coach Mike Hesson said both
sides will be keen to bowl at night, something which will affect strategy
"There's definitely something to that
(declaring to bowl at night), if you think that's the best chance to take a few
early wickets," he said.
"There'll definitely be some tactical
plays throughout the Test."
Australia are contemplating playing two
spinners with Stephen O'Keefe's record in Adelaide bringing him into contention
O'Keefe has taken 18 wickets for New South
Wales in three pink-ball Sheffield Shield games at the Adelaide Oval, and he
has no doubt the third Test will produce a result.
"In my opinion this is the best ground
to play with the pink ball," O'Keefe said. "I think that is a result
wicket out there, without a doubt."
David Warner, who hit twin centuries in
Brisbane and a maiden double-ton in Perth, believes a switch to the pink ball
and a likely grassy Adelaide Oval pitch may tilt the balance to the bowlers.
"The last two wickets have been very
batter-friendly," Warner said. "It's going to be a different story
playing here and I think you'll see the ball move around a bit off the
Ground staff have had their work cut out
after a rock concert by AC/DC at the Oval on Saturday, putting a drop-in pitch
in place and replacing some 800 square metres of outfield.
James Pattinson, who has struggled with
injuries, is expected to play his first Test since March 2014, while Shaun
Marsh has another chance to prove his worth at Test level as he replaces
injured batsman Usman Khawaja.
New Zealand have Neil Wagner in line to
replace Trent Boult if the key paceman succumbs to a back injury.
Australia (from) - David Warner, Joe Burns, Steve Smith (capt), Shaun Marsh, Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Steve O'Keefe, Peter Siddle.
New Zealand (from) - Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), BJ Watling, Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Neil Wagner.
Umpires: Richard Illingworth (ENG), Sundaram Ravi (IND)
TV umpire: Nigel Llong (ENG)
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)