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Gutsy NZ ready for mighty Australia


 
 MELBOURNE, March 28 (PTI): 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 here tomorrow.

New Zealand, who have qualified for the summit clash for the first time in 11 editions, will take on Australia who not only have the highest number of world titles but also would be competing in the final for the seventh time starting from their first in 1975.

Home side captain Michael Clarke’s retirement from the ODIs after tomorrow’s grand finale will provide a touch of emotion to the Australians who will want to present a ‘farewell’ gift to their inspirational skipper by lifting the trophy.

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 semi-finals six times but could never break the proverbial ‘last four jinx’ that had hurt them many times.

From Richard Hadlee, Glenn Turner to Martin Crowe, Stephen Fleming, New Zealand’s finest bunch of cricketers could never give themselves an opportunity to take a shot at the title.

But this current team led by Brendon McCullum has all the ingredients to bag the cricket’s ultimate prize as they have proved it with eight successive victories starting from the first match of the tournament against Sri Lanka. New Zealand have had two close matches – a one-wicket win in a low-scoring thriller against Australia and a high-scoring semi-final against eternal chokers South Africa.

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.

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