NZ vs AUS: Australia announces playing XI for Wellington Test

After whitewashing New Zealand by a 3-0 margin in the T20I series, Australia will now engage in a two-match Test series, starting February 29 at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. Ahead of the match, the visitors have confirmed their playing XI as veteran opener Steve Smith will continue at the top of the other, while all three pacers – Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood will feature in the squad.

Meanwhile, all gazes will be fixed on Smith. In the wake of David Warner’s retirement from the longest format last month, the veteran has filled his shoes but is still to establish his credentials. In the series against West Indies, the 34-year-old failed in the first innings but in the fourth innings, he made 91*, but unfortunately, no other batter supported him in the middle as the Kraigg Brathwaite-led side created history by beating Australia by eight runs at the Gabba, Brisbane.

Australia haven’t changed their playing XI since the series against the West Indies. Usman Khawaja, who had a remarkable 2023, is yet to make the most of his outings in 2024. That’s a bit of a concern, while Marnus Labuschagne has failed to convert his promising starts, a challenge he hopes to address in the upcoming assignment.

On the other hand, Mitchell Marsh is in remarkable form. He has maintained his form since 2023, for which, he was awarded the Allan Border medal. The 32-year-old would look to continue in the same fashion and bring success to Australia. Travis Head, meanwhile, will look to improve his form, as he couldn’t make the most of the opportunities against West Indies, registering 119 in the first Test while copping a pair in the second.

The bowling department looks sorted for Australia as usual. Despite playing five Tests during the Australian summer, the pace trio is set to resume bowling duties. Skipper Cummins had mentioned earlier that all the pacers were keen to feature in all seven Test matches, and it appears that they are sticking to that plan.

Australia Playing XI: Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood