|Ground:||Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne|
|Scorecard:||Australia v New Zealand|
|Event:||ICC World Cup 2014/15|
DateLine: 28th March 2015
The Cricket world’s biggest festival will finish this Sunday when co–hosts and neighbours, Australia and New Zealand clash in the ICC World Cup 2014/15 final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne. Four time winners Australia, will be looking to add yet another trophy to their cabinet, while opponents New Zealand will play their first-ever World Cup final.
A sensational final is on the cards as the two best teams in the tournament vie for the trophy. To add some needle to the contest, the final may well invoke memories in the Kiwis of the Benson & Hedges World Series finale of 1981 at MCG, where the infamous underarm bowling incident took place.
For the second time running, the final will witness a clash between the co–hosts. In the last, India playing in front of home fans against Sri Lanka lifted the trophy at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Australia will be hoping for a repeat of history when they meet New Zealand on Sunday. On top, the subject of Michael Clarke’s retirement from one-day cricket will add more flavour to the showdown.
Pre–tournament favourites, Australia thrashed defending champions India by 95 runs to make the final and their only blip came against New Zealand in the Group A encounter in Auckland. A fiery spell from Boult and calmness personified from Kane Williamson guided the Kiwis to a narrow one wicket victory that day. With the final being played in their backyard, Australia will be seeking to avenge that loss.
Australia's batting lineup, led by the hero of their last match, Steven Smith coupled with the presence of the ever-dangerous Maxwell, Watson and Finch is enough to terrify any bowling lineup in the world and capable of scoring lots of runs. Although, David Warner’s form in the recent matches may cause some concern for the Australian think tank.
The Aussie pace quartet of Hazelwood, Starc, Johnson and Faulkner will be looking to destroy the Kiwi batsmen with swing and bounce. Mitchell Starc’s blistering spell of 6 for 28 which nearly pulled-off a win for Australia from the jaws of defeat will be fresh in the memory of the New Zealanders. However, one may speculate that the lack of a world-class spinner may be the only chink in the Australian armour.
New Zealand have been unbeaten so far in this World Cup. They made it to the finals after a nail-biting finish against the Proteas and with their first World Cup trophy in the offing, will be trying their utmost to upstage the Aussies.
The express starts given by skipper Brendon McCullum and double centurion Martin Guptill have been the secret behind the Kiwis success. The middle order is secure in the hands of the calm and collected, Kane Williamson and veteran, Ross Taylor. Moreover, last match hero, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson and Luke Ronchi will form a lethal lower middle order.
The Black Caps' bowling attack led by Boult and Southee has already grabbed 36 wickets with some fiery spells and will be supported by last minute replacement, Matt Henry and the evergreen Vettori.
New Zealand may be somewhat daunted by the big boundaries and atmosphere at the MCG after playing on their home turf for the last few months.
With a guaranteed full house, Australia will be looking to deliver a treat to their fans, while New Zealand will hope for a continuation of their unbeaten run in the World Cup.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2015 Arun S Kaimal)