New Zealand captain Kane Williamsomn
New Zealand's Kane Willamson

Cricket betting tips: New Zealand v Australia first Test preview and best bets

Richard Mann has a strong view as New Zealand host Australia in the first Test in Wellington on Wednesday night – check out his thoughts here.

Cricket betting tips: New Zealand v Australia, first Test

3pts New Zealand to win the first Test at 7/2 (General)

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Cricket fans have enjoyed some wonderful Test cricket of late, and world Test champions Australia return to action when taking on New Zealand in Wellington on Wednesday evening, 10:00pm UK Time.

Australia suffered a shock defeat when beaten by a Shamar Joseph-inspired West Indies at the Gabba last month, but they remain a powerhouse outfit, though by no means unbeatable.

In fact, Pakistan pushed them hard in the preceding series in Australia when poor catching probably cost the away team a Test win somewhere in that 3-0 loss – and the ever-reliable NEW ZEALAND won’t be as charitable on home turf.

The Kiwis warmed up for this series with a 2-0 victory over a second-string South Africa in the last few weeks, where big runs from the likes of Kane Williamson and Rachin Ravindra were backed up by impressive bowling performances from Matt Henry and rookie Will O’Rourke.

Williamson continues to put up astonishing numbers – he has compiled seven centuries in nine Test matches since the beginning of 2023 – and he will be a tough nut to crack as always.

Ravindra made a brilliant century against this opposition at the Cricket World Cup, and the high-class Daryl Mitchell, who averages 54.71 in Tests, is expected to be fit again to ensure the middle order is equally strong.

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This is a fearsome New Zealand batting line-up, while Ravindra and Glenn Phillips provide left-arm and right-arm finger spin with the ball to ensure there is also balance to the XI, a handy bonus to complement a fine seam attack led by Tim Southee.

I rate New Zealand good value here at 7/2, with home advantage on their side on a ground where they crushed Sri Lanka by an innings just under a year ago.

Aside from losing to the West Indies last month, and being kept honest by Pakistan previous to that, Australia also finished last summer’s Ashes by losing the final two matches of that series, having needed rain in Manchester to avoid defeat in the third Test.

The batting has seen a reshuffle with David Warner now retired and Steve Smith moving up to open, and a relatively lean run for Marnus Labuschagne in the last year means New Zealand will fancy making them early inroads with the new ball. Cameron Green still has much to prove as he bids to make that number four spot his own.

The Australia pace attack is of course very good, but Nathan Lyon comes up against a New Zealand top seven full of very good players of spin, and if Williamson and his top-order colleagues can lay a good platform, this won't be easy work for the tourists.

In fact, this has all the makings of another close Test match and as such, New Zealand look hugely overpriced at 7/2. I can’t turn that down.

CLICK HERE to back New Zealand with Sky Bet

Preview published at 1615 GMT on 26/02/24

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