Lord’s is all set to host another big-ticket rivalry as Australia and New Zealand, the 2015 finalists, face off in the 37th match of the ICC World Cup 2019 on Saturday.
New Zealand suffered their first defeat of the tournament, when they were outclassed by a resurgent Pakistan in their previous clash by six wickets. While James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme impressed with a 132-run partnership for the sixth wicket in tough batting conditions at Edgbaston, the opening pair of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro failed once again.
With New Zealand looking to seal off a semifinal spot sooner rather than later, it wouldn’t be surprising if Kane Williamson and the team management ring in some changes in the playing XI.
Australia have once again proven why they are a team to be feared at ICC tournaments, having won six of their seven games and become the first and, so far, only team to confirm a spot in the semifinals. The opening pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner has been delivering consistently, with 996 runs between them. The bowlers, led by the ever-inspirational Mitchell Starc, haven’t allowed their opponents to get away, striking at crucial junctures on a consistent basis.
The only area of mild concern for the five-time champions is the form of their middle order, as they face a strong New Zealand bowling unit, led by a shrewd captain on Saturday.
Martin Guptill, the New Zealand opener, hasn’t been able to produce a performance of note after his stroke-filled 73* against Sri Lanka in his side’s opening game. Guptill, who scored an unbeaten century in his only outing at Lord’s, back in 2013, will look to find his rhythm back as the tournament enters a critical phase.
The star left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc leads the wicket charts for Australia in this World Cup, much like he did in 2015, with 19 scalps. Starc, who registered a career-best 6/28 against New Zealand at Eden Park in the 2015 edition, and later took the crucial wicket of Brendon McCullum in the final, will once again be Aaron Finch’s key weapon.
London will be dry and sunny, with no chances of precipitation and a bit of humidity. Teams batting first have won each of the last three ODIs at Lord’s, and both captains, considering their strong bowling attacks, will look to bat first and back themselves to defend a total.
Australia opener David Warner has scored 531 runs -- the most by any player in the current Australia World Cup squad -- in the 11 matches he played against New Zealand.
Australia batsman Steven Smith smashed 164 -- his career best ODI score -- against New Zealand back in 2016 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. This remains the highest individual score by any player in the two sides’ current World Cup squads to have played against each other.
Ross Taylor has amassed 973 runs -- the most by any player in either sides’ current World Cup squads -- in the 28 matches he played against Australia.
Australia quick Mitchell Starc has scalped the most wickets by any current Australia bowlers against the Kiwis. He took 18 wickets in the eight matches he played against New Zealand. Starc also registered his career best figures of six for 28 against New Zealand back in 2015 in Auckland.
Trent Boult of New Zealand has scalped 25 wickets -- the most by any player in the two teams’ current squads -- in the 10 matches he played against Australia.