Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 28 January 2020

'The old day-night thing ... It'll be interesting': New Zealand face pink-ball challenge as Australia series begins

The Black Caps pad up for the first of a three-Test series in Perth with no warm-up games and with scorching weather forecast for Australia's west coast

New Zealand's Kane Williamson plays a shot during the fifth day of the second Test against England at Seddon Park in Hamilton. AFP
New Zealand's Kane Williamson plays a shot during the fifth day of the second Test against England at Seddon Park in Hamilton. AFP

Kane Williamson conceded his New Zealand team's preparation for the upcoming pink-ball Test against Australia was hardly perfect and that they will need to adapt quickly to the nuances of day-night cricket.

The tourists face an Australia side with the wind in their sails having thrashed Pakistan in their recent two-match series - including a pink-ball Test under the lights in Adelaide in which the Aussies thrashed their opponents by an innings and 48 runs.

The Black Caps pad up for the first of a three-Test series in Perth with no warm-up games and with scorching weather forecast for Australia's west coast, before heading to Melbourne for the Boxing Day clash then Sydney.

Williamson's side come into the match off the back of a 1-0 series win over England on home soil last week. But they last played a day-night Test nearly two years ago, against England in Auckland.

"The old day-night thing, eh. It'll be interesting. It's just another thing to adapt to, I suppose," Williamson told reporters.

"Such is the international schedule - we fly out, have a little bit of training and are straight into another match.

"The perfect preparation? It's always hard to know what that is."

New Zealand have only won three of 31 Tests in Australia and have not claimed a series on the other side of the Tasman since 1985-86.

They received some good news with all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme fit after tearing an abdominal muscle in the first Test against England last month.

Injured bowling spearhead Trent Boult also missed the second Test against England but has recovered sufficiently from a side strain to make the plane to Australia.

He shapes up as a potential match-winner on a Perth pitch expected to offer pace and bounce, along with fellow quick bowlers Tim Southee and Neil Wagner.

Their battle for supremacy with Australian fast bowling trio Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins could be crucial to the outcome.

Black Caps opener Tom Latham said the team was not scared of facing such a top-notch attack.

"I wouldn't say [it's] daunting, but it's an exciting opportunity for us," he told reporters in Perth. "We're lucky enough we have played most of their guys before, so we know what they bring."

Scorching hot weather is forecast for the first three days in Perth with temperatures of 40° Celsius.

Australia captain Tim Paine is widely expected to field the same XI to the one that crushed Pakistan in their recent two-match series.

David Warner, who made a monumental 335 not out in Adelaide, is in a rich vein of form, as is Marnus Labuschagne, who has hit two big Test centuries in a row, reducing the reliance on run-machine Steve Smith.

Smith pinpointed Williamson and Boult as the opposition dangermen.

"He's a quality player and hopefully we can keep him quiet this series," he said of Williamson, while noting Boult has "terrific skills and a great record".

Updated: December 10, 2019 11:37 AM

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