23 Feb 2024

'The Bolt' returns for Black Caps in must win game

8:43 am on 23 February 2024
New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals for the wicket of Sri Lanka's Charith Asalanka during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023

New Zealand's Trent Boult appeals for the wicket of Sri Lanka's Charith Asalanka during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Black Caps and Australia will both make changes to their line-ups for tonight's second T20 international at Eden Park.

The tourists won the opening game in Wellington on Wednesday with a dramatic last ball boundary.

New Zealand need to win in Auckland tonight to keep the three-match series alive.

Tim Southee, who bowled that last over in Wellington, is being rested for the last two matches to allow him to refresh ahead of the two-match test series against Australia.

Taking his place is his old battle partner Trent Boult.

Boult is no longer contracted by New Zealand Cricket, but played last year's 50-over World Cup and has been brought into this squad with this year's T20 World Cup in mind.

Boult has played 55 T20 internationals, but his last was at the 2022 World Cup in Australia.

Lockie Ferguson, who was the pick of the Black Caps bowlers in Wellington, said he's looking forward to having Boult back.

"He's world class, not only the bowling that he brings on the park, but the conversations he has as a senior player," Ferguson said after the first game.

"He's been playing a huge amount of T20s (in leagues around the world) and in my book he keeps getting better.

"Having that experience on the field, the guys feed off that, he adds the left hand and swing so he'll be raring to go."

Allrounder Rachin Ravindra is also looking forward to Boult's return.

"His skills are unbelievable, but he just brings a lot of energy and chat and he's a great man to have around the team.

"The Bolt, as we call him, he's the guy and hopefully I spend a bit of time with him."

The only other possible change to the Black Caps could be if they decide to play just one spinner which would likely result in Ish Sodhi making way for Ben Sears.

Steve Smith of Australia

Steve Smith of Australia Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Meanwhile, Steve Smith will play for Australia after missing the game in Wellington on Wednesday.

He's likely to open the batting with the Australians continuing to experiment with their line-up ahead of the World Cup.

Australia coach Andrew McDonald has indicated that Smith would open with David Warner either on Friday or in the third game on Sunday.

Like Boult, Smith hasn't played a lot of the shortest version of the game recently. He has had just two games since the last World Cup in 2022.

McDonald said Smith is in their thinking for the World Cup.

"He'll get some opportunity here, he's definitely in the thoughts.

"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."

Australia are also likely to rotate their bowlers.

Their big three of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all played on Wednesday, but backup quicks Nathan Ellis and Spencer Johnson are expected to feature in at least one of the remaining games.