Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Australia eyeing silverware over info in NZ
Beating the Black Caps is the primary goal for Aaron Finch's side which could boast a few "bloody exciting" rookies
21 February 2021, 10:23 AM AEST
Make no mistake, Australia's main focus on their T20 tour of New Zealand is to come home with the trophy.
While the five-match campaign will also serve as a fact-finding mission ahead of this year's T20 World Cup in India, captain Aaron Finch said winning was the top priority for his side.
It is why he declined to name Australia's XI on match eve to keep his opponents guessing and is preparing for a well-drilled New Zealand side that is going for a hat-trick of T20 series wins on home soil this summer having already beaten Pakistan and the West Indies.
"The first aim to is to win the series but there's also a bit of information grabbing throughout the series with guys in some different roles, potentially," Finch said today in Christchurch.
"Our No.1 focus is to try and win the series. We're coming up against a great New Zealand side, quite experienced.
"You've got (captain Kane) Williamson leading the side with Martin Guptill at the top of the order who is a great white-ball player for New Zealand.
"Then you've got the experience of (pacemen Trent) Boult and (Tim) Southee, (spinners Mitch) Santner and (Ish) Sodhi, Jimmy Neesham as well.
"It's a very settled, experienced side and we're going to have to be at our best to win."
Finch has already flagged he will bat in the top three with gloveman Matthew Wade and uncapped batter Josh Philippe, with hard-hitting allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis to round out the top five.
The No.6 position is the most contentious, with Mitch Marsh, Ashton Turner, Ben McDermott and D'Arcy Short all capable of filling the role.
Ashton Agar, Australia's reigning T20 player of the year, is set to return to the XI after missing most of the summer with calf and finger injuries and re-unite with spin twin Adam Zampa. Leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha is the third tweaker in the squad.
Senior seamer Kane Richardson and Scorchers speedster Jhye Richardson, who secured a A$2.48 million contract in Thursday's IPL auction, could lead a pace attack full of options.
Fast bowlers Daniel Sams, Jason Behrendorff, Andrew Tye and Riley Meredith could easily play on Monday in Christchurch, depending on how the selectors decide to balance the XI.
While the Australia squad is understrength without Test players like Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc and Steve Smith, Finch says it is "bloody exciting" to see young players given a chance to perform on the international stage.
"Jhye, we know how skilful he is, to see him back bowling fast and swinging the ball over here has been really impressive," Finch said when asked who has impressed him at training during the two weeks of quarantine.
"Josh Philippe, we've seen how dynamic he is and the form he's been in throughout the Big Bash, so really excited for him to get an opportunity at some point throughout this series.
"Riley Meredith has been right up there with his best in these training sessions and match situations.
"It's bloody exciting when you've got a lot of guys who haven't played much for Australia, the excitement, the energy they bring is outstanding."
The Aussies will exit hotel quarantine around 8pm local time tonight ahead of tomorrow's opening clash at Hagley Oval, which begins at 7pm AEDT.
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Ashton Turner, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, *Martin Guptill (pending fitness test), Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee. *Finn Allen (on stand-by for Guptill)
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo