First time finalists New Zealand battle Australia for Cricket World Cup crown

Can Australia benefit from home advantage at the MCG?

Can Australia benefit from home advantage at the MCG?

 

It may have required an exhausting 44 days and 48 matches to reach, but finally the Cricket World Cup crescendo tops out in all the flip-flop, vest top glory joint-hosts Australia can offer. In the end, the final match-up was predictable, as Australia and maiden finalists New Zealand thrashed their way with unrelenting prowess to meet for the chance to become world champions.

Both deserve their place in the final for the attacking, edge-of-your-seat style cricket they have played. No team has matched their appetite for runs and ruthless fast-bowling, and as the pair walk out at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday we are likely to witness a truly stunning contest.

 

Cricket World Cup Final Betting Odds:

Australia win 11/25

New Zealand win 7/4

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Having smashed their way around both of their own islands, New Zealand now travel across the Tasman Sea for their first game of the World Cup on foreign soil. And while Australia will enjoy home advantage, their Kiwi cousins enter the final as the only side to win every match of their campaign including the group stage fixture between these two sides.

New Zealand offer better outright winner odds, but Australia are peaking at the right time and, as shown by their unforgiving dismissal of current champions India in the semi-finals, it is almost impossible to predict a victor.

As such, we need to look elsewhere, and one bet that is more tempting is Australia’s opening partnership to be under 29.5 runs at 5/6 with Coral.

Australia have posted an opening partnership over 30 just once in their seven games so far, striking 57 against England in their first match of the World Cup. Even then, they gave a simple chance in the first over, when Chris Woakes dropped Aaron Finch on a duck; New Zealand are unlikely to be so generous.

 

Indeed, so disciplined have they been in the early overs that only one side scored an opening partnership above 30 against them. Though new-ball pair Tim Southee and Trent Boult suffered late on in their last match with South Africa, where Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and David Miller went Thor-like hamming the seamers to all parts, they share 36 wickets in the tournament. Crucially for this bet, they remove opposition opening batsmen cheaply: on four occasions the opening stand has fallen for five runs or fewer.

And if the pace bowlers don’t work, New Zealand can turn to the spinning threat of Daniel Vettori in the knowledge he is unlikely to leak runs. The oldest player left in the tournament, 36-year-old Vettori has taken 18 wickets already in this World Cup, and his canny ability to change delivery speed will cause problems in Melbourne. Added to the attacking mind-set of captain Brendon McCullum’s field settings and the MCG’s larger boundaries and Vettori can be used from the off.

In comparison, New Zealand’s forthright batting has their first 15 overs run rate averaging at 6.97 runs per over (Australia lagging on 5.87). Opener McCullum proved against the pace attack of South Africa that even the world’s best bowling won’t prevent him from playing big shots. And though many will point to New Zealand’s smaller boundaries for their big-hitting success, 16 of their 25 knock-out round maximums would have still cleared the MCG ropes. So backing New Zealand to have the most runs after 15 overs (around evens with most sportsbooks) is a worthwhile bet.

 

Lastly, for those who enjoy bet-in-play options, look no further than an Australian win if Steve Smith reaches his half-century. The Australian batsman was pushed up to number three for their quarter-final bout with Pakistan where he made 65, and then backed it up in the semi-finals notching up a man-of-the-match 105.

Once mocked, Smith’s contribution with the bat has been telling, with Australia yet to lose an ODI contest when he makes 50. Averaging 71.50 in the number three slot, Smith provides a calm but powerful presence, building a platform for the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson to exploit with their hefty middle-order blows.

 

FRANCIS KELLYfrancis avatar is a sports writer who has contributed to the Independent, the Guardian and The Cricketer magazine. He can be found waxing lyrical about Norwich City on Twitter

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Twenty20 Preview: England’s last chance to salvage some pride

Eoin Morgan is one of a handful of England players to emerge from the ODIs with any credit

Eoin Morgan is one of a handful of England players to emerge from the ODIs with any credit

Finally the torment is almost over. A tour that has yielded just one victory so far over Australia is almost at an end. After a Test series that for the most part resembled Drederick Tatum v Homer Simpson, and a One Day Series where England looked like they’d forgotten how to win; England embark on the final part of this mammoth tour, a three match Twenty20 series which has plenty riding on it.

Not only is it a chance to finally beat Australia in a series and add a touch of dignity to a tour which will surely go down as one of the worst in living memory, this series also provides both teams with a chance to build for the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh which is just two months away.

Twenty20 World Cup Betting Odds

India – 4.50

Australia – 6.00

South Africa – 6.50

Pakistan – 7.00

Sri Lanka – 7.00

West Indies – 7.00

England – 8.00

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Due to the ridiculous nature of international cricket scheduling (Australia tour South Africa next month); the hosts have made several changes to their squad. Several senior players have been rested including Shane Watson and David Warner, but the team still looks fairly strong.

George Bailey has proven himself to be both an accomplished leader and batsman in the shorter formats of the game. Glenn Maxwell may well be a filthy slogger but he is very good at what he does and England will be fearful of the ‘The Big Show’ teeing off. There’s also Aaron Finch who decimated the England attack with a brutal 156 off just 63 balls in the first T20 against England back in August.

 

England’s squad generally looks quite youthful and shows continuity as they build to the World Cup. They will be led by Stuart Broad who can enjoy his customary raucous welcome from the Australian fans. Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan will be looking to carry on their form from the ODIs as England’s two most destructive batsmen. After excelling throughout the tour, Ben Stokes is also part of the squad and is remarkably still showing no signs of struggling with the demands of international cricket. There’s also aggressive opener Alex Hales who is one of three members of the England squad who have been involved in Australia’s Twenty20 Big Bash League this winter.

England’s bowling will be a bit of a worry with Australia’s super aggressive approach under coach Darren Lehmann. There’s plenty of experience in the seam attack with Broad and Tim Bresnan, however England are weak in the spin department. Bowling spin for England has not been a fun experience on this tour. Every English spinner has been targeted and duly despatched and this is almost certain to continue in this series.

 

If the earlier series in England is anything to go by, these games should be high-scoring. Australia will be confident of continuing their success and start the series as heavy favourites. However their squad isn’t as strong as the one that drew 1-1 with England in August and I would expect this series to be quite tight.

If England can break the shackles, they have every chance of winning. They have the experience and the quality to turn over this Australia side. What remains to be seen is whether they can overcome the mental scarring that this nightmarish tour has indelibly left on English cricket.

 

England need to learn to win again, with the Twenty20 World Cup just around the corner; now would be a good time to start.

 

liam avatarLIAM McCONVILLE is an avid cricket fan, a hapless village cricketer and a Yorkshireman with an irrational hatred of Jade Dernbach. He rants about the game he loves at http://www.fortyballduck.blogspot.co.uk/ and @FortyBallDuck on Twitter.