Champions Trophy: Kiwis opt to bat first against Aussies

Birmingham: New Zealand have won the toss and elected to bat first in their opening group clash of the Champions Trophy against two-time winners Australia here at the Edgbaston on Friday.

After winning the toss, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said, “We are going to bat. We had a bit of a break so guys are looking forward to this one. The short boundary makes it interesting. It is always tough to beat Australia, whatever side they put.”

Meanwhile, Australian skipper Steve Smith said that he too would have opted to bowl first, had he won the toss. He further said that the preparation has been good and that the players are in good headspace.

“I was probably going to bowl first anyway. Preparation’s been good. The rain-out against Pakistan wasn’t ideal. The guys are in a good headspace. This is a big tournament; we pride ourselves on how we perform in these tournaments.” So both captains have got what they wanted,” said birthday boy Smith.

The two sides will be facing each other in an ICC event for the first time, after meeting each other in the 2015 World Cup final, where the Steve Smith-led side emerged victorious.

Since then, the Trans-Tasman rivals have faced each other twice in two Chappell-Hadlee series, and today they are all set to renew their rivalry once again.

While Australia are always a tough team to crack, the Kane Williamson-led side will head into the eight-team tournament with renewed confidence, following their six-wicket warm-up win over Sri Lanka at the same venue.

Australia have won all four of their previous encounters with New Zealand in the Champions Trophy.

New Zealand, on the other hand, have won 13 of their last 17 completed ODIs in the Champions Trophy and World Cup; winning eight of their nine fixtures at the 2015 World Cup, losing to Australia in the final.

New Zealand Playing XI: Martin Guptill, Luke Ronchi, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, James Neesham, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner, Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

Australia Playing XI: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Moises Henriques, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood. (ANI)