Champions Trophy preview: Weakened Australia vs plucky New Zealand

New Zealand play the part of perpetual underdog to perfection. Every time they get into a big event, they talk themselves down, are almost self-deprecatory, and then end up punching well above their weight.

updated: June 12, 2013 09:16 IST
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So many teams have changed their uniforms so dramatically that at first glance you can't tell who is playing whom. With one unit, though, the kit is still the same, but the team is unrecognisable. Australia, for so long, have dominated the world of 50-over cricket, especially multi-team International Cricket Council events, that they came into each event as default favourite. Conditions didn't seem to matter, the draw of groups was never really taken too seriously and each match was a stepping stone to the final.

Never have the tables been turned so comprehensively on a team. Ahead of the match against Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand on Wednesday (June 12), Australia are looking at a situation where one slip up could spell an early exit. Against England, Australia looked rudderless in the absence of Michael Clarke, who had been ruled out of the New Zealand match as well. "Michael is continuing to have intensive treatment in London and, whilst he is making good progress, he has not improved sufficiently enough to play the game against New Zealand on Wednesday," said Alex Kontouris, who is overseeing Clarke's treatment for a longstanding back problem. "We will continue to monitor his progress and determine his availability for next week's final group game against Sri Lanka."

While George Bailey, who is Australia's regular leader in Twenty20 cricket, has all the makings of a solid cricketer, he doesn't yet inspire fear in the opposition. James Faulkner, the other bright spot of the loss, is desperately inexperienced and, although skillful, has a long way to go before he becomes a world beater.

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