Match Preview: Australia vs New Zealand
The MCG, Melbourne
It is the match-up the event organisers dreamed about. The two co-hosts taking each other on in a 100 000-seater stadium that is sure to be at full capacity.
Australia will be aiming to win the tournament for a record fifth time, while New Zealand are appearing in their first final of the global showpiece after finally coming past the semi-final stage, at the seventh time of asking.
New Zealand have been the best side at the tournament, winning all their matches including beating the Aussies in the group stages, by one wicket. If the final is anything like their previous clash, we are all in for a thriller.
The best fast-bowlers at the tournament will be on display, and they both happen to be left-arm pacemen. Trent Boult, of New Zealand, has taken 21 wickets in eight matches while Australia's Mitchell Starc has taken 20 wickets in seven games.
Australia will probably name an unchanged team from the side that did duty in the semi-final against India. Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood had a sore thumb in the last match but should be fit to play.
Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum has named an unchanged line-up for the Kiwis, which means fast bowler Matt Henry who was not part of the 15-man squad until before the semi-final will get to play in New Zealand's biggest game in their history.
The sides last encounter, outside of a World Cup, was a rained out encounter in the 2013 Champions Trophy. The last completed match was back in 2010 in Wellington. New Zealand, batting first, scored 241 for nine with Scott Styris top-scoring with 55. They then bowled the Aussies out for 190 to win by 51 runs. Shane Bond was the star with the ball taking four for 26.
World Cup meetings
As mentioned before, the sides met earlier in the tournament in Auckland. Australia were skittled out for just 151 inside 33 overs with Boult taking five for 27.
New Zealand looked comfortable in the chase but Starc, with figures of six for 28, made them nervous before the Black Caps scraped home by one wicket in a remarkable game of cricket.
For the Black Caps the outcome of the match could hinge on what kind of start skipper Brendon McCullum gives his team. If, as expected, he takes on the Aussie bowlers, and it comes off, it will relax the rest of the batting order. McCullum's captaincy in the field will also be important.
Mitchell Starc will look to nullify McCullum and get him out early to set the tone for the rest of the innings. He has swing, pace and bowls left-arm. Everything you want in a fast bowler.
Kumar Dharmasena and Richard Kettleborough (on-field umpires), Marais Erasmus (third umpire), Ranjan Madugalle (match referee)
It is set to be a sunny day in Melbourne on Sunday with no rain expected, and a maximum temperature of 25C. The MCG pitch has tended to be bouncy, but batsman-friendly through the tournament, and Sunday's surface is not expected to be any different. There is unlikely to be much in the way of swing and seam.
While we said New Zealand have won eight games out eight at the event, it will be a different ball-game at the MCG, Australia's sporting capital, and a ground that they have a strong record at. The Aussies should win, but as neutrals we just want to see a good game of cricket.
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