The 2nd Test between Australia and New Zealand gets under way on Boxing Day (26th December) at the Cathedral that is the Melbourne Cricket Ground.


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There were high expectations of an even contest in Perth for the 1st Test but New Zealand found themselves on the back foot early in game and whilst they battled bravely, they were never going to win the 1st Test. Whilst the 296 run defeat looked like a smashing, in reality the hot sun and oppressive conditions suit Australia’s style of “pressure” cricket.


Australia’s Batsman continue to make a bucket load of runs with Marnus Labuschagne ($19,500 Draftstars) 143 run 1st innings effort the standout. Along with contributions from the majority of the Australian batting lineup, this current side is a hard one to crack. Outside of Ross Taylor’s ($14,600 Draftstars) 1st innings score of 80 the Kiwi’s couldn’t build long partnerships in either innings. 20 wickets from the Aussie’s meant it was a fill-up of fantasy scores across the board. Mitchell Starc’s ($20,300 Draftstars) 9 wickets was the highlight. 


Out of the 1st Test match, the Perth heat took its toll with injuries to Lockie Ferguson and Josh Hazelwood ruling them out for the Boxing Day Test. New Zealand welcome back Trent Boult ($16,400 Draftstars) and Australia bring in James Pattinson ($14,200 Draftstars). New Zealand have lost patience with opener Jeet Raval who will make way for Tom Blundell ($9,500 Draftstars). Be warned, Blundell has never opened in First Class cricket in the longer form of the game. He has however opened in a couple of T20’s but not since 2017. Blundell does have a Test century to his name in only two Test match appearances. Just keep an eye on the status of David Warner ($15,700 Draftstars) as he was struck on the hand in the nets in the lead up to the Test.


Obviously there is plenty of material on the make-up of the MCG wicket for this Test match. Of course the wicket required work after the drab results in seasons past, but to see the WA vs Victoria match called off earlier this month has raised the general public’s eyebrows. An always a bat first wicket, the toss will take on importance on the result of this game.


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Likely XI

Australia - Warner, Burns, Labuschagne, Smith, Head, Wade, Paine (c,wk), Cummins, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon

New Zealand - Latham, Blundell, Williamson (c), Taylor, Nicholls, De Grandhomme, Watling (wk), Santner, Southee, Wagner, Boult


Champ - Pat Cummins ($18,700 Draftstars)

Whilst Mitchel Starc grabbed the headlines with his 9 wickets in Perth, Starc’s fantasy salary has rocketed to above $20k leaving the “World’s Best Test Bowler” at a somewhat affordable $18,700. 11 wickets in Australia’s Test summer at an average of 30.36 is not quite what we expect in the statistics but the wickets have been shared amongst the bowling attack. The loss of Hazelwood will mean that Cummins should be relied on by captain Tim Paine more often. 


Chance - Neil Wagner ($16,000 Draftstars)

When New Zealand were a bowler down, Wagner bowled his heart out in the heat. His battle with Matthew Wade was a highlight. 7 wickets in Perth and whilst Southee and Boult lead this NZ bowling attack, Wagner can bob up if the ball is not swinging for the opening bowlers and look to extract some bounce in this MCG pitch.  


Cheapie - Henry Nicholls ($9,500 Draftstars)

Whilst most will look to pick Tom Blundell, Nicholls at the same price will be massively under owned. The left-hander played exceptionally well in the Bangladesh series in NZ with a 50 and 100 in March but has failed to score 50 since. If he can find himself in a big partnership with either Kane Williamson and/or Ross Taylor then hopefully Nicholls can ride the train.


Chump - Mitchell Santer ($10,700 Draftstars)

Historically overseas spinners coming to play in Australia have had a rough time taking wickets, let alone applying pressure to the Australian Batsman. Santer did not have a great game in Perth going wicketless in 41 overs in 2 innings. If the “G” continues to offer little assistance to the bowlers then Santer will be in another tough time at it.

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