Australia and New Zealand, the trans-Tasman rivals will square off against each other at the MCG in the World Cup summit clash on Sunday. While New Zealand are playing fearless cricket, Australia have peaked at the right time. New Zealand will be chasing their maiden World Cup while Australia would like to win the title back after losing it to India in 2011. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
Here are the key battles which can change the course of this big match.
Brendon McCullum vs Mitchell Starc
Both have played an aggressive brand of cricket throughout the tournament. McCullum has shown he aggression at the top whiel Starc uses his angle to jag the ball back into the right-hander.
When the last time the two played against each other, McCullum smashed Aussies all over the park before being dismissed by Pat Cummins. Starc triggered a collapse in New Zealand line-up by picking up six wickets but it was the Kiwis that previaled. Starc would like to repeat his performance at the MCG.
Martin Guptill vs Mitchell Johnson
Johnson is not among the top wicket-takers like his team-mate Starc but has returned to his ‘beast’ mode in the kcockout stage. Australia will be counting on his experience in the final against New Zealand. Johnson, like Starc, can bring the ball back into right-hander while bowling the odd out-swinger at the same time.
Martin Guptill is in fine form having scored a century and a double century at the World Cup. He has scored most of his runs while playing with the straigt bat. Once again, he will have to play ‘A’ game to face the most leathal bowling attack in the tournament.
Kane Williamson vs James Faulkner
Faulkner usually bowls as a first change and is expected to bowl after the new ball loses its shine. Faulkner can move the ball both ways, can bowl slower balls efficiently to deceive a batsman. Williamson guided New Zealand to a thrilling chase at Auckland and with his clam head and icy-cool temperament, he is expected to star at the MCG where he can pick the gaps at will. Whether Faulkner can contain Williamson in the middle overs will be a contest to watch out for.
Aaron Finch vs Trent Boult
It was a fine example of swing bowling by Boult against a top class Aussie line up at Auckland in the group stage match. He swung the ball back and away and picked up five wickets. Conditions will be different but the left-armer knows how to outfox the likes of Finch and Warner. Finch on the other hand had a luke-warm tournament but somehow managed to get runs against India. If he survives Boult’s opening spell, he can turn dangerous for the Kiwis.
David Warner vs Tim Southee
Southee bowled the spell of the World Cup against England and grabbed 7/30. But since then he hasn’t able to repeat that sort of performance. His sharp and precise line can trouble the Aussies in the final. He can bowl in-swinging yorkers at the death but needs to maintain the accuracy. Anything marginal short can be hit for runs. Warner would punish anything bowled with room on off side and short. Warner can hit those over covers and that early momentum is just a gift to him that Southee would like to avoid.