Steve Smith
Can Steve Smith lead Australia to a Test series victory against New Zealand?Reuters

Australia will lock horns with New Zealand in the first Test of the three-match series at The Gabba in Brisbane on Thursday.

It is a huge challenge for both the sides. Australia may have played a lot of cricket against England, India and some against the other cricketing nations across the world in the last four years, but they have not been offered much of an opportunity to battle it out against the Kiwis. 

Brendon McCullum's side looks more settled than Steve Smith & co. If they would have had the option of playing a deciding Test match against England in the last summer, the Black Caps would have been the clear favourites.

Australia, under new leader Steve Smith, looks inexperienced on the pitch. They have a plethora of young talents at their side but they will have to deliver against the Kiwis in order to prove their worth.

"For me as a leader my philosophy is to make sure that I am leading from the front, that's really important to me. I think last year when I got the opportunity to captain I did that and I would like some of the same results as last year," Smith told the mediapersons on Wednesday. 

"We're just going to go out and do what we've done so well in Australia the last couple of years. We're going to continue to play a hard, aggressive brand of cricket, and we're not going to cross that line."

Australia national selectors have opted for Queenslanders Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja instead of Shaun Marsh and Cameron Bancroft. Coach Darren Lehmann will be hoping that this choice of opening combinations bears fruit in the upcoming Test series. No one can doubt their potential but they will have to match up against the likes of Trent Boult and Tim Southee. 

New Zealand, on the other hand, will be playing under the attacking mindset of McCullum. He will pump in a lot of positive energy into the side during their Test series against the Aussies. The war of words have already began between the Kiwis skipper and David Warner. The fans are eagerly waiting to see the battle on the field.

It will not be a cake walk for New Zealand as well. They will also have to face the might of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood. The home conditions are likely to provide a lot of assist to these Aussie speedsters and McCullum is wary of that. 

"Starc is a guy who has developed incredibly quickly at this level. Four years ago we came over and he was pretty early in his career. The emergence of him between then and now, he's a completely different bowler. Where he sits in world cricket - he's probably one of the most feared bowlers around. But if you want to win in Australia, you don't expect people to hand it to you," McCullum told the reporters on Wednesday.

"He possesses skills that transfer into Test cricket as well. His ability to bowl quick and use his bouncer and then follow it up with his yorker, like we've seen a lot in one-day cricket, but we've also seen a little bit of recently in Test cricket as well. They're pretty decent weapons to have as a quick bowler."

Australia Playing XI: Steve Smith (C),David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

New Zealand Probable XI: Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (C), Jimmy Neesham, BJ Watling (wk), Mark Craig, Doug Bracewell, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.

Where to watch live:

Australia vs New Zealand 1st Test match is scheduled for a 10 am local time (5:30 IST, 12 am GMT) start with live TV coverage in India on Star Sports 2 Star Sports HD 2. The live streaming option will be available on Starsports.com and Hotstar.com

The viewers in the UK can watch Australia vs New Zealand 1st Test match in Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD 1. The fans can live stream the same on SkyGO.

Audience in the US can tune into Willow TV to watch the Australia vs New Zealand 1st Test match and stream the same on Wilow TV online.  

The fans in Australia will have to switch to Channel 9 and stream the same on Cricket.com.au

Cricket fans in New Zealand will can watch Australia vs New Zealand 1st Test match on Sky Sport 1 and Sky Sport HD 1. The live streaming option will be on SkyGo.co.nz

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