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Australia bat first, make three changes for Second T20I

Looking to claim an unassailable 2-0 series lead in Auckland, the Aussies have made a number of changes to their XI

Steve Smith has an opportunity to demand selection in Australia's first-choice T20 team with the star batter to open in David Warner's absence for the second match of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series at Eden Park. 

Smith will immediately have his work cut out for him against Trent Boult, the left-arm swing king who is back to bolster a New Zealand team that will bowl first at the pocket-sized Auckland venue after captain Mitchell Santner won the toss.

Along with Smith, Matthew Wade and Nathan Ellis have returned to the visitors' XI with Warner, Mitchell Starc and Matthew Short all dropping out as the Aussies assess their options for this year's World Cup.

New Zealand XI: Finn Allen, Devon Conway (wk), Will Young, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Mitchell Santner (c), Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Ben Sears

 

Australia XI: Travis Head, Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh (c), Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis, Tim David, Matthew Wade (wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Ellis, Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood

The Kiwis, who have also made three changes to their side, are aiming to level the series after Tim David engineered a last-ball win in the series opener in Wellington on Wednesday.

The hosts have suffered a blow with Rachin Ravindra out with a knee injury, a concern ahead of next week's two-Test campaign getting underway.

Tim Southee has been rested with that series in mind, while paceman Ben Sears replaces leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, as Boult returns for his first T20 International since November 22.

Australia have flagged their intention to rotate their squad during the three-game T20 campaign which precedes the Tests in Wellington and Christchurch. The final T20I will also be played at Eden Park, on Sunday.

Mitchell Starc has been rotated for the Second T20I in Auckland // Getty

Smith faces an uphill battle to crack Australia's best T20 team given he is now being viewed as a top-order, rather than a middle-order, option.

Warner, Travis Head and captain Mitch Marsh appear ahead of him in the pecking order.

"But he's definitely in the thoughts," coach Andrew McDonald said this week.

"We'll probably play him in a slightly different role to what we've seen in previous World Cups in T20 cricket.

"He's gone to the top of the order in recent times, so batting high up there's still competition for places."

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Wade will take the wicketkeeping gloves back off Josh Inglis after he was a late arrival across the ditch due to the arrival of his and wife Julia's third child earlier this week.

But Inglis remaining in the XI, instead of Short, underlining that Australia see the West Australian as a legitimate option to play alongside Wade in the same side.

Ellis will also have his work cut out for him as a death-bowling specialist at the Auckland venue primarily used for rugby.

Its straight boundaries are so short that it would not be permitted to host international cricket if its use for top-flight games did not predate ICC regulations on minimum ground dimensions.

This match marks Ellis' 21st for Australia, only one of which has come in his home country, and was forced to miss the Dettol T20Is against West Indies due to a freak rib injury.

Ellis landed awkwardly on a ball during the KFC BBL playing for Hobart Hurricanes, who he captained for the first time last season.

Ellis brushes off awkward landing to deliver for 'Canes

"I was spewing to miss that West Indies series," Ellis said after arriving in New Zealand.

"For me now it's time to hit the ground running and put my name forward for the World Cup. There's not a lot of cricket outside of IPL (before) the World Cup after this series."

Qantas Tour of New Zealand

February 21: First T20: Australia win by six wickets with 0 balls to spare

February 23: Second T20, Auckland, 5.10pm AEDT

February 25: Third T20, Auckland, 11am AEDT

Australia T20 squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Pat Cummins, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

New Zealand T20 squad: Finn Allen, Devon Conway, Tim Seifert, Rachin Ravindra, Glenn Phillips, Mark Chapman, Josh Clarkson, Mitchell Santner (c), Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Lockie Ferguson, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult

February 29 – March 4: First Test, Wellington, 9am AEDT

March 8-12: Second Test, Christchurch, 9am AEDT

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc

New Zealand Test squad: Tim Southee (c), Tom Blundell (wk), Devon Conway, Matt Henry, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Will O'Rourke, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.