Australia have a slight advantage in the final: Stephen Fleming
Melbourne, March 28 (IANS)
Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming on Saturday said the Michael Clarke-led Australia side has a slight advantage because they know the conditions better than the Black Caps.
Four-time world champion Australia face New Zealand in the much-awaited cricket World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Sunday.
“Australia knows the conditions better”
Co-hosts New Zealand entered the final of the World Cup for the first time with a victory over South Africa in the semi-finals.
“That is not some Kiwi self-deprecation on my part, but rather an acknowledgement that Michael Clarke's side has a slight advantage because they know the conditions better than the Black Caps,” Fleming wrote in a column for the International Cricket Council (ICC) on Saturday.
“The MCG is a home venue for the Aussies, after all, and although a drop-in pitch nullifies that advantage to a degree, it means the Australians will still have a command of things as subtle as the effect of the wind or the angles of the playing arena.”
But the 41-year-old said that the Black Caps can win.
“Yes, Brendon McCullum's men can win, but as to whether they will, that is absolutely in the balance with the odds favouring Australia – but only just,” he said.
“Expect New Zealand to rise to the occasion”
The former skipper said that the Kiwis should not be worried about the size of the ground but be excited at the prospect of creating history.
“Instead, rather than being daunted or overawed about the stadium, I expect this New Zealand side to be excited at the prospect of creating history and to rise to the occasion because the bigger the challenge, the more determined they have become,” he said.
Fleming said that it will be a good contest between the bat and ball at the start of the two innings with both sides having strengths in both the bowling and batting departments.
“I believe the tone for the occasion will be set by the start of the two innings. On the one hand it will be McCullum against Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, and on the other it will be David Warner and Aaron Finch against Trent Boult and Tim Southee.”
“MCG will provide Vettori a chance to show his full range of skills”
The former batsman said the ground's big boundaries will provide plenty of scope for veteran spinner Daniel Vettori to show his full range of skills.
“The good thing from a New Zealand perspective is that the MCG's big boundaries will provide plenty of scope for Daniel Vettori to show his full range of skills, and his ability with the ball means that, in one area at least, the Black Caps are clearly ahead of their rivals,” he said.
He pointed out that whether the Kiwis win or lose, they have already made the country proud.
“Win or lose, New Zealand's players have done their country proud but they will want to make sure they leave nothing in the dressing room because the chance to play in a World Cup final is as special as it gets,” Fleming concluded.