Finally, the long wait has almost come to an end and we are just two days away from the much-awaited New Zealand-Australia clash, that is scheduled to take place at Auckland. This will be for ninth time that both will face each other in World Cup. In the previous eight battles, Australia have been on the winning side on most occasions but this time around, a fierce battle can be expected as both of them are in superb form. The weather in Auckland is expected to remain clear throughout the day and there are absolutely no chances of rain so, we can expect a cracker-jack of a game.
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The dimensions of the ground have been much talked about in the days leading into the match. The scores, though, have not been unworldly high – last year there was a tie involving India where 314 was scored, but before that there had only been three 300-plus totals in 15 matches.
Time 06:30 IST
So far, The Black Caps have stood up to the expectations in their first three matches. Against Sri Lanka, it was a complete team effort that sealed the deal for them by 98 runs. In the second game, their bowlers made light work of Scotland batting line-up and as a result, the target of 147 didn’t become a big deal for their batsman. The third match against England proved to be a cake walk for them as Tim Southee took 7 wickets and the poms collapsed from 104/3 to 123/10. Brendon McCullum then played a typical ‘Bazooka’ innings as The Black Caps wrapped up the match in just 12.2 overs. It has been pleasing to see them play such ruthless cricket but the question now is whether they’ll be able to stop the mighty Australians, who possess the fire-power in all departments of their game?
All in all it can be said that this team has the capability to stop Australia’s progress in any conditions and going into this match, they should just look to play to their strengths and not worry much about the opposition’s strategies. A New Zealand fan would also want that this Brendon McCullum lead side should look to play hard and win the match so that they can go ahead in the tournament with a stable mindset.
The Aussies kick started their World Cup campaign with a 111-run win against England at Melbourne. Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh were the main heroes in this win but the good thing that came into notice was that they played extremely well as a unit. Their second match against Bangladesh on February 21st got abandoned due to persistent rain. There will surely be a bit of rustiness in the camp because of the 13 day gap between their game next game but with the kind of form New Zealand is in, they can consider themselves lucky to get these many days to prepare for this big clash.
Going by the form of their players, Australia don’t have much to worry about except Shane Watson, who has been in poor form with the bat for quite a while now and is in the team just because of his bowling. It’s high time that he starts to score some runs because once James Faulkner gets fully fit, Watson might find it hard to get a place in the playing eleven.
Previous World Cup Encounters:
1987: Australia won by 3 runs (Indore)
Australia won by 17 runs (Chandigarh)
1992: New Zealand won by 37 runs (Auckland)
1996: Australia won by 6 wickets (Chennai)
1999: New Zealand won by 5 wickets (Cardiff)
2003: Australia won by 96 runs (Port Elizabeth)
2007: Australia won by 215 runs (St George’s)
2011: Australia won by 7 wickets (Nagpur)
Key Players To Watch Out For:
New Zealand: Kane Williamson
Till now, Williamson has scored 104 runs in 3 matches at an average of 52.00 with a solid fifty against Sri Lanka. If New Zealand are to post a total in excess of 300 against the likes of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Marsh then ‘firm’ Williamson is going to be the man to help them do it.
Australia: Aaron Finch
It would be fair to say that the other name of absolute dominance is Aaron Finch. Once he gets going, it’s extremely hard to stop him. His 156 against England in the first game proved the same and considering the fact that the length of the boundaries at Auckland are pretty small, who knows Finch might have the best time of his life there!
Key Battles To Watch Out For
Brendon McCullum v Mitchell Starc:
It’s going to be aggression vs aggression. All in all it can be said that it’s going to be a fascinating battle as both are in great touch of their respective disciplines. This battle might well decide the fate of this match as if anyone of them gets going, it’ll surely get difficult for the other team to make a come back into the match.
Tim Southee v David Warner:
Australia’s newly found run-machine will be up against New Zealand’s wicket-taking machine. It’s going to be a fascinating battle as both are in good form and the one who will handle the pressure well at the start of their respective disciplines might well seal the deal for his team at the end of the day. Will Southee trouble Warner with his swing or will Warner have an answer to every trick of Southee? Well, the time will tell about that.
Probable Playing XI
All the 15 members of their squad are full fit for selection and there are not even any minor injury concerns. As far as their line-up for this match is concerned, they will go unchanged for the fourth match running.
Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Adam Milne
The co-hosts are still sweating over the fitness of Faulkner but the good news is that their skipper Michael Clarke has fully recovered from his hamstring injury and will surely play his first match of the tournament. With Steven Smith in sublime form, George Bailey will be the direct swap for Clarke in the playing eleven. Pat Cummins will get his first game of the tournament ahead of Josh Hazlewood.
David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Steven Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins