Friday, February 27, 2015

Trans Tasman Rivalry to set the World Cup 2015 Alight!

Australia vs New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland: Feb 28, 2015 - Match Preview

The co-hosts of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and unanimous favorites go head to head in the most anticipated clash of Pool A at Eden Park in Auckland. These two proud sides have, in a strange co-incidence, not met each other in ODI cricket since 2011 when Australia beat New Zealand in Nagpur. While Australia demolished England and then saw their game against Bangladesh washed out, New Zealand has dismissed Sri Lanka, huffed and puffed to a win against Scotland and swatted away the English.

The Australian opening batsmen of David Warner and Aaron Finch are in form and are capable of hitting the ball fiercely. They will have the reliable Steven Smith to come in at number four who will be followed by the Aussie skipper Michael Clarke who is returning to top flight cricket after his rehab. Shane Watson at number three is a position that they do not seem to have covered at the moment and Watson will be under pressure to perform well else he might be replaced by James Faulkner when he is fit. Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson lurk in the shadows ready to pounce on the opposition in the slog overs.

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson are two left arm bowlers who are capable of wreaking havoc if the pitch offers a bit of assistance but they are known to lose the plot if things start to go a bit awry. In the game against England, the third Mitchell got in the act as the English batsmen gifted their wickets away to the military medium pace of Marsh. Watson remains a key bowler as he keeps tight lines thus slowing scoring rate. The Australians do not have any decent spinner as Glenn Maxwell is only a part time bowler and that may prove to be a key point upon which the game may hinge.

New Zealand has the explosive and extremely confident Brendon McCullum firing at the top of the order. Martin Guptill is not in particularly splendid form but he has been making vital contributions to be still there opening with the skipper. Kane Williamson occupies the number 3 spot and he is the most versatile batsmen in this line up, he is also in the middle of a purple patch. Ross Taylor is experienced and can hit the long ball as well as dig in if the need arises. The big hitting all rounder Corey Anderson and the wicket-keeper bat Luke Ronchi have contributed to New Zealand’s pyrotechnics lately in the slog overs. They also have Grant Elliot who is extremely competent with both bat and the ball in his hand.

Can Brendon McCullum replicate his sparkling form against Australia?

Many might say that the Australians have the best new ball opening pair but I believe that New Zealand is in firm possession of that. Tim Southee and Trent Boult are a dream new ball bowlers for any captain. One is right handed, the other left handed. Both swing the ball, both swing it late. Both can bowl with pace, both are accurate. Then they have the raw pace of Adam Milne and the experience in the form of Daniel Vettori. Add to that Corey Anderson, Grant Elliot and Kane Williamson and you would have the most potent bowling line up in the world.

Key Battles: Australia vs New Zealand

Tim Southee and Trent Boult vs David Warner and Aaron Finch

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson vs Brendon McCullum and Kane Williamson

Daniel Vettori vs Steven Smith and Michael Clarke

I have been waiting for this game for a long time and am pretty excited by what these two teams can do. The aggressive captaincy of both McCullum and Clarke will be on display, they both have an array of explosive batsmen, a pace battery to dream of and both are athletic fielding sides. These two sides will not give an inch to the opposition and whoever wins this game will go a long way in the tournament because of the amount of confidence and self belief that such high pressure games can instill in you is immense. Just hoping that it is a close game, I am sure it will be a spectacle!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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