New Zealand will take on Trans-Tasman rivals Australia in the finals of the T20I tri-series at Auckland on Wednesday in what will be a repeat of their round-robin fixture at the same venue a few days earlier.
Then, Australia had successfully completed a world record chase of 244 at Eden Park with its short boundaries.
Runs should flow once again and so we take a look at the key battles ahead of the finals.
TRENT BOULT V D’ARCY SHORT
Boult might not be the top-ranked Kiwi bowler but he remains the indisputable lynchpin of their bowling attack. The left-arm pacer has been expensive in his last three outings but has still managed to chip in with crucial wickets at the top and at the death.
His job on Wednesday will be to provide the crucial breakthroughs at the start and up against him will be David Warner and D’Arcy Short. While the reputation of the former precedes him, that of the latter is only growing with each passing innings in international cricket.
The Big Bash League (BBL) record-breaker has taken to international cricket like a duck to water and his match-winning 76 in the record chase will be fresh on the minds of the Blackcaps. His battle with Boult at the start should be an intriguing affair.
AARON FINCH VS ISH SODHI
The Australian batsman is having an extended purple patch that is showing no signs of stopping.
He was brilliant in the ODI series against England where he scored two tons and he has carried that form into the T20I tri-series. He played a big part in Australia’s record chase at the same venue and was on hand to score the winning runs.
Coming in to bat down the middle-order, Finch will up against New Zealand’s ace leg-spinner Ish Sodhi The Kiwi has been economical in the recent matches and his match-up against Finch will be interesting.
Finch loves to attack the spinners and there is no doubt he will go after Sodhi when the invitation is offered. Who comes out on top remains to be seen.
COLIN MUNRO V BILLY STANLAKE
Munro has been in destructive form in the T20 format since the end of the last year and has looked ominous in his last two outings where has registered two smashing half-centuries.
With Eden Park’s miniscule boundary distances, Munro could turn the match on its head with an explosive start. His partnership with Martin Guptill at the top has flourished of late and they will need to deal with Australia’s pace threat at the start of the innings.
That threat comes from Billy Stanlake who has been cranking up the speeds in this tri-series. The 23-year-old hurling in his rockets at Munro who will be looking to fight fire with fire is a mouth-watering prospect.
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Virat Kohli has achieved his highest ODI career rating points to extend his lead in the ICC rankings for batsmen to a whopping 65 points.
In the updated rankings released by the ICC on Tuesday, the India skipper achieved a rating of 909 points, which puts him seventh in the all-time list in ODI cricket history.
909 is the highest rating ever achieved by an Indian batsman in one-dayers, and it comes on the back of an extraordinary series with the bat for Kohli in India’s 5-1 thrashing of South Africa. It also puts Kohli above West Indies great Brian Lara who has a highest rating of 908 points.
Only two subcontinent batsmen, Zaheer Abbas (931) and Javed Miandad (910) of Pakistan, have achieved a higher rating than the Indian batting maestro.
The 29-year-old scored a staggering 558 runs in the six matches on the back of three centuries, at an eye-popping average of 186.
— ICC (@ICC) February 20, 2018
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Rashid has become the youngest bowler to occupy the top spot in the ICC rankings, a truly remarkable feat for the Afghan youngster whose rise in international cricket has been something to behold.
Afghanistan spin sensation @rashidkhan_19 has become the youngest man to top the @MRFWorldwide ICC Player Rankings, now the number one ODI bowler alongside @Jaspritbumrah93! https://t.co/UWbtY8rwTUpic.twitter.com/bUPHYyd22x
— ICC (@ICC) February 20, 2018
The leg-spinner picked up 16 wickets in the recently concluded ODI series against Zimbabwe. He is the youngest player in men’s cricket to achieve the top of the rankings in any format, making his achievement all the more noteworthy.
India are perched at the top of the team rankings with 122 points, ahead of South Africa who have 117.
Bhuvneshwar’s 5-24 was the first ever five-for by any Indian pacer in the format. It also means that the 28-year-old now has a five-wicket haul in all three international formats.
Only five other bowlers in history have achieved this feat before the India man. We take a look at who they are.
AJANTHA MENDIS (SRI LANKA)
The 32-year-old spinner might be a forgotten man now but there was a time when he was bamboozling batsmen left, right and center when he burst onto the international stage as a youngster.
The mystery finger-spinner has nine five-wicket hauls in all formats. Four of them have come in Tests, three in ODIs and two in T20Is.
Mendis’ meteoric rise however, was mirrored by an equally quick downfall as batsmen around the world came to terms with his variations.
TIM SOUTHEE (NEW ZEALAND)
The Blackcaps pacer has been around for some time now in international cricket. A bowler who relies very much on conventional swing, Southee has done well to pick up a five-wicket haul six times in Test cricket and two times in ODIs.
His sole five-for in the 20-over format in 2010 against Pakistan at Auckland where he finished with figures of 5-18.
Southee is the only New Zealand bowler to feature on the list.
UMAR GUL (PAKISTAN)
He has done it four times in Test crickets and twice each in ODIs and T20Is. The 33-year-old was a brilliant exponent of reverse swing and famous for his stinging yorkers at the death. It is no wonder therefore, that he has been so successful in limited-overs cricket.
LASITH MALINGA (SRI LANKA)
The second Sri Lanka bowler to feature on the list, Malinga has always been a phenomenal performer in limited-overs cricket with his slingy unorthodox action, pin-point yorkers and cleverly disguised slower-balls.
The 34-year-old has picked up seven five-wicket hauls in ODI cricket, three in Tests and once in T20Is. His sole five-for in T20s came in the ICC World Twenty20 clash against England at Pallekele where he returned with figures of 5-31.
IMRAN TAHIR (SOUTH AFRICA)
The 38-year-old Proteas veteran is the oldest name to feature on the list. The Pakistan-born leg-spinner has thrived in limited-overs cricket in recent years, especially T20s, with his subtle variations.
Tahir has picked up two five-wicket hauls each in Tests and ODIs. His sole five-for in the 20-over format came in New Zealand last year where he finished with figures of 5-24 in South Africa’s 78-run win at Auckland.