Lights on in Christchurch as New Zealand hosts Australia for T20I | Cricket News

In the new normal for professional cricketers, Australia will emerge from coronavirus quarantine on Sunday night less than 24 hours before the start of their five-game Twenty20 series against New Zealand in Christchurch.
Monday’s series opening will be the first international played under the lights at Hagley Oval, but the action won’t begin until after the sold-out crowds mark the 10th anniversary of the devastating earthquake that killed 185 people in the city.
After a moment of silence to remember that dark day in the past, attention will turn resolutely to the future – especially World Twenty20 in October and November.
It’s the only world title Australia have never won and tourists including three uncapped players have the chance to prove they deserve a place on the squad to try and fix this in India more late this year.
Automatic selections David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are absent after being selected instead for the later aborted test tour of South Africa.
It gives lesser-known players the chance to show off the key attribute of versatility, even though skipper Aaron Finch has said the number one priority is a series win.
“The first goal is to win the series,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“But there’s also a bit of information that accumulates throughout the show with guys in different roles, potentially.”
New Zealand, who will play in a retro beige kit, have assembled their strongest team to take on the Australians in second place, including rhythm bowling sensation Kyle Jamieson and mainstay Kane Williamson.
The Black Caps have never made it past the World T20 semi-finals and coach Gary Stead believes a “dangerous” Australia, with many fit players from the recently ended Big Bash tournament, will be a good test for them. “You could say it’s the Big Bash fit team that is here right now.” Stead said.
“Yeah, they might not have some of those names that we’d expect to see, but when you look through their line-up they’re still classy.”
It’s still possible that a small outbreak of COVID-19 in Auckland last week could disrupt the series when it travels to New Zealand’s largest city for Game 4 on March 5.
While the current lockdown conditions would not mean crowds at Eden Park, Australian players coming out of quarantine will likely just be happy to have another chance to play.
“The boys are snacking to get out and start the show,” Finch said.

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