The following is a preview with betting tips for the 2015 ICC World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand. Based on current world rankings this game features the 1st and 4th best teams in the world, however based on World Cup form, it’s fair to say Australia and New Zealand have been the two best sides this tournament.
World Cup Final – Australia vs. New Zealand
Sun Mar 29 (50 ovs) 03:30 GMT | 14:30 local | 11:30 AWST | 14:00 ACDT | 14:30 AEDT
Melbourne Cricket Ground
New Zealand form:
– Won by 98 runs v Sri Lanka
– Won by three wickets v Scotland
– Won by eight wickets v England
– Won by one wicket v Australia
– Won by six wickets v Afghanistan
– Won by three wickets v Bangladesh
– Won by 143 runs v West Indies
– Won by 4 wickets (D/L method) v South Africa
New Zealand have been one of the most consistent sides this world Cup and are deserved finalists. South African fans may point to the bad timing of the rain in the semi-final, however at the end of the day South Africa lost three fixtures during the tournament while New Zealand remain undefeated. What will please New Zealand fans is the variety of players from whom key contributions have come from with the bat. Guptill, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Elliot and Anderson have now all had decent knocks during the tournament, so they are not as reliant on key players as other nations. Luke Ronchi has had a quiet tournament however he was immense in the series against Sri Lanka, giving New Zealand seven good quality batsmen. It’s fair to say that Brendon McCullum is the most intimidating open batsman in world cricket, so much of New Zealand’s momentum going into the middle overs will come down to how long he can stick around.
With the ball New Zealand have been one of the best sides in the tournament. Their opening bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee can put immense pressure on opening batsman, no better highlighted than by their performance against South Africa. Daniel Vettori provides an excellent third option with his spin and Matt Henry was impressive after being a late call up in the semi-final. Corey Anderson is a great fifth option because while teams tend to go after him and he concedes runs, he has taken wickets regularly this tournament – as highlighted by the three he took against South Africa. The key man for New Zealand, however, is definitely Boult. How well Australia cope with him will go a long way to determining the outcome of the final. One caveat to the strength of the New Zealand bowling attack, however, is the fact that the ball isn’t expected to swing as much in Melbourne as it has in New Zealand, which may mute the threat of Boult and Southee to some extent.
– Won by 111 runs v England
– Match abandoned v Bangladesh
– Lost by one wicket v New Zealand
– Won by 275 runs v Afghanistan
– Won by 64 runs v Sri Lanka
– Won by 7 wickets v Scotland
– Won by 6 wickets v Pakistan
– Won by 95 runs v India
Apart from looking susceptible to some good pace bowling spells against New Zealand and Pakistan, Australia have been very strong this tournament. From a batting perspective Australia have been very good, getting contributions from numerous players and they will have been pleased to see opener Aaron Finch score 81 against India after going through a minor slump. Also well and truly out of his mini slump is Steven Smith, who put in a man of the the match performance against India. Even Mitchell Johnson can be handy for scoring quick runs so Australia have nine players who can score well, giving them the deepest batting line up in the competition.
From a bowling perspective, Mitchell Starc has been Australia’s most consistent performer, taking 20 wickets with a miserly economy of 3.65 runs per over. Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner have been strong in certain games, but not with the same consistency as Starc. Australia will most likely play without a specialist spinner in the final, however even in spin friendly conditions at the SCG against India, it proved unnecessary for them to select one.
Head to head
Recent head-to-head history:
– Since 2007 Australia have an 8-2 record against New Zealand on Australian soil
– At the MCG Australia have a 14-4 record against New Zealand
– The last time the two sides played at the MCG was in 2009. New Zealand won by six wickets.
– New Zealand last toured Australia in 2009. New Zealand won the first two ODIs and Australia won the second two.
– Australia and New Zealand last played in the group stage of this World Cup. New Zealand won by 1 wicket in Auckland.
From a batting perspective I give the edge to Australia, who have four players in the top 25 run scorer stats this tournament (Smith – 346, Maxwell – 324, Warner – 300, Finch – 280), compared to two for New Zealand (Guptill – 532, McCullum – 328). The next best batsman for New Zealand is Anderson, who is ranked 32nd with 231 runs.
From a bowling perspective New Zealand have the edge. If you look at the top wicket takers this tournament, New Zealand have four players ranked inside the top 12 (Boult – 21, Vettori – 15, Southee – 15, Anderson – 14) compared to just one for Australia (Starc – 20). Johnson has been second best for Australia with 12 wickets. This tournament has shown time and time again that wicket taking is the best way to restrict large totals as opposed to stifling run rates.
A lot has been said of the large size of the MCG compared to grounds in New Zealand, but the Black Caps do have plenty of experience of playing at larger overseas venues and six members of the current XI participated in the 2009 ODI series when they defeated Australia by six wickets at the MCG. With that being said, I think home advantage will be huge for Australia, especially given they only just lost to New Zealand at Eden Park and they have certainly strengthened since then. If anything, the win over Australia at Eden Park may count against New Zealand, because Michael Clarke has openly spoken about the result as being a wake-up call for Australia.
Despite all of the talk about the tournament being dominated by the bat, the teams that have performed the best have generally been the sides with the best bowling attacks. On paper New Zealand have been the strongest in this department so I’m expecting them to give Australia a really good fight on Sunday. New Zealand are certainly in with a chance of winning this, but with this fixture being held at the MCG, I’m going to have to side with Australia. In the head-to-head market my pick is Australia at 1.44 odds (Sportsbet). Australia have a dominant record over New Zealand, particularly on Australian soil, where New Zealand haven’t played since 2009! In hindsight perhaps the Black Caps should have scheduled a tournament warm-up game in Melbourne just to give them a proper look at the venue, because six years is a long time in professional cricket.
In the team high bat markets, I expect Brendon McCullum to go down in an entertaining blaze of glory, so my Black Caps pick would be Martin Guptill at 5.00 (Sportsbet) or perhaps for a bit of value Grant Elliott at 8.50 (Luxbet). For Australia I would have to go with Steven Smith at 4.25 (Luxbet) for his consistency, although Brad Haddin at 34.00 (William Hill) may provide a bit of value if the Australian top order gets shredded by Boult. Haddin was the top run scorer for Australia at Eden Park.
For the top overall batsman if I had to pick one player it would be Steven Smith at 7.50 (Luxbet). I haven’t selected a New Zealander due to the side’s lack of recent cricket in Australia.
This year’s World Cup has been a fantastic tournament and I wish both sides the best of luck on Sunday.