Melbourne: It will be the biggest day in the history of Trans-Tasman cricketing rivalry when four-time champions Australia will be pitted against a highly committed bunch from New Zealand in the final of the cricket World Cup at the iconic MCG in Melbourne on Sunday.
For Australia, it is a case of “been-there-and-done-that” before while for their ‘Little Brothers’, it will be an endeavour to rewrite the pages of history with one memorable performance that would leave an indelible mark.
New Zealand, despite having produced a number of world class cricketers over the years, have not tasted any big global success, their closest being in 2000 in Nairobi when they beat India in the ICC Champions Trophy.
The ‘Black Caps’ have long remained pretenders at the global showpiece event where they have played the semifinals six times but could never break the proverbial ‘last four jinx’ that had hurt them many times.
On paper, Australia will certainly be the favourites going into the final. Player-to-player, Australia would be slightly ahead in most of the departments but more importantly have won their matches on the big Australian grounds, which has not been the case with New Zealand, whose successes have come on the relatively smaller grounds.
The ‘X-Factor’ on Sunday could be Daniel Vettori — one of the finest exponents of left-arm spin bowling. Summoned for national duty from a hiatus, Vettori has been that binding factor in the Black Caps’ line-up which has helped them match after match.
The Teams (From):
Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin (wk), Shane Watson, James Faulkner, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty, Pat Cummins, George Bailey, Mitchell Marsh
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (captain), Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Luke Ronchi (wk), Daniel Vettori, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Kyle Mills, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan, Tom Latham.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena and Richard Kettleborough.
Match Referee: Ranjan Madugalle