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Starc looms large for Black Caps

By Jake Beleski

[email protected]

Australia will be hoping to rebound from a humiliating home Test series cricket loss to South Africa by reclaiming the Chappell-Hadlee ODI trophy from New Zealand over the coming days.

The Black Caps are riding high after a recent 2-0 Test series win over Pakistan, and start their quest to retain the Trans-Tasman trophy they won in 2015, at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

The second match is in Canberra on Tuesday, with the series finale at the colossal Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday — the scene of the Black Caps’ capitulation in the face of a Mitchell Starc-onslaught in last year’s World Cup final.

The rangy Starc looms once again as the central figure that could single-handedly destroy NZ’s hopes of retaining the trophy they hold in such high regard.

He ripped the heart out of the Black Caps innings when he sent down a blistering yorker into Brendon McCullum’s off-stump with the fifth ball of that fateful final.

Starc’s freakish combination of height, speed, swing and aggression make him arguably the most lethal bowler in world cricket.

The Black Caps beat Australia in the pool stage of the World Cup, but Starc produced one of the greatest spells of fast bowling in one day cricket history that day as he claimed 6-28 from his nine overs, to nearly get his team over the line.

Australia will be reeling after their latest efforts against South Africa — the 2-1 loss was preceded by a disastrous 5-0 whitewash in the one-day series hosted by the Proteas.

They will see this series with NZ as an opportunity to regain some confidence and much-needed public support after what has turned out to be a calamitous few months for the side.

NZ’s efforts will centre around skipper Kane Williamson, who one suspects will have to shoulder the majority of the scoring if the Black Caps are to be competitive.

The batting line-up around him looks fragile, and the much-maligned Martin Guptill will also need to produce something special to give NZ the slightest opportunity.

A much-anticipated debut of Auckland’s Lockie Ferguson represents an exciting time for NZ, as they search for a genuine pace bowler, while Adam Milne is sidelined with injury.

Ferguson deliveries have been clocked at as much as 155kmh in New Zealand XI matches at Lincoln earlier this year, while his first class record is a pleasing 77 wickets at 25.09 from 22 matches.

But in front of their own crowds, and needing to reverse their recent fortunes, it is Starc and his supporting cast who are likely to have the final say in this chapter of the Trans-Tasman series.

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