About the Match
Set to be the clash of the week, co-hosts New Zealand and Australia will go head to head for the first time in the group A match on 28th Feb at Auckland; the Kiwis top the points table with 6 points from three straight wins whereas Australia is positioned second with 3 points as their last game was affected by rains, forcing them to share points with Bangladesh. It will be a tough contest as both sides are going great guns from the start of the tournament with no dearth of talent or experience in both camps. While the audience will be thrilled to see their heroes bringing out all the firepower on the field, it will be interesting to watch how the players strategize to emerge victorious on Saturday.
They continue to demolish batting line-ups with precise bowling attack and chasing runs successfully or setting up huge totals with confidence. McCullum leads his team from the front, playing the role of a run-getter in the top order along with Kane Williamson, Guptill, Anderson and Elliot. While he scored a thumping 77 off just 25 balls against England, he posted a well-made 65 against the Lankans; Williamson’s 57 of 65 and Guptill’s heroic 49 off 62 saw them post a massive 331 against Sri Lanka, which was well defended by the main bowlers taking 2 wickets each. Against England, Southee claimed a stupendous 7-33, wiping out the entire opposition for just 123 runs with help from Vettori, Milne and Boult. Vettori will play a crucial role with his magical spin and his 3-24 against Scotland indicates his good form; Southee, Boult and Anderson will lead the pace attack and they need to deliver against Australia’s hard-hitting batsmen. Overall, the team looks sharp both mentally as well as with their skills to take on the Australian might.
They are hungry to get the points on board and Clarke and his men are raring to go with batsmen like Finch and Maxwell getting the big runs against England. However, it’s been two weeks since they played a match and will need to be cautious against the Kiwi pace attack. While Finch scored a brilliant 135 off 128 balls to set the foundation, Maxwell’s quick 66 off 40 along with Haddin and Marsh helped them set up a huge total of 342. Marsh picked up an amazing 5-33 in 9 overs to emerge as a strong asset while Mitchell Starc and Johnson, who took 2 wickets each against England, will lead the attack on Saturday. Clarke will be playing his first match after a long hiatus and a lot will ride on his decision-making and his ability to lead from the front. David Warner is in great form but players like Shane Watson and Steven Smith will have to steady the innings in the middle; overall, the team is ready for bigger challenges and will move ahead with conviction.
It will surely be a test of the nerves and talent as New Zealand takes on Australia on Saturday; but both sides are equally placed in terms of player performances and leadership skills. While the match will surely go down to the wire, we feel that New Zealand with the home advantage will be better placed to continue with their winning momentum.
New Zealand, 2.37 @ Bet365