Trans-Tasman Rivalry

Peaking at the right time, Australia will resume its Trans-Tasman rivalry at the World Cup stage when it takes on New Zealand at Lord’s here on Saturday.
Trans-Tasman Rivalry
Australia has had a near-perfect campaign so far

London

Barring the defeat against India, defending champion Australia has done nothing wrong so far, becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals. Aaron Finch’s men are in roaring form and would look to continue their winning momentum. New Zealand comes into the match after suffering its first defeat against Pakistan, which snapped the Kiwis’ unbeaten streak in the competition.

The ‘Black Caps’ -- which has amazingly retained the same side for its first seven matches -- has secured 11 points. It needs at least a win from its remaining two outings to be assured of a fourth straight WC last 4 berth. These two sides met in the 2015 final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and with memories of that game still fresh, Saturday’s duel may turn out to be a cracker.

The rivalry is heavily skewed against New Zealand, with Australia winning all but one of the 20 ODIs played outside the two countries. The only win for the ‘Black Caps’ in a neutral venue came in the 1999 WC match at Sophia Gardens. That result has also been the lone victory for New Zealand in seven WC matches between the two teams.

Not only history, but also current form of players points to five-time title-winner Australia beginning as the favourite. Australia swept past host England by 64 runs in its last match and currently looks like one of the two sides most likely to lift the trophy, the other being India.

Finch and David Warner have been the dominant opening duo of this tournament and are on track to become the greatest-ever pair at the top in a WC. The players rank first and second in the run-scoring list, and have put on a record-equalling three century stands. Fast bowler Mitchell Starc tops the bowling chart with 19 wickets at 18.26.

He’s caused New Zealand batsmen headaches before with his bounce, swing and pace. Jason Behrendorff also came good in the win over England as the left-armer took five for 44. New Zealand will again rely heavily on captain Kane Williamson, who has scored 414 runs at 138 in five innings. His lone ODI century against Australia came when they last met, at the Champions Trophy in 2017, a contest which was washed out.

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