Cricket World Cup final: Australia will take on New Zealand
The home team will be favourites in Melbourne, but New Zealand have a warning for their hosts
Australia will play New Zealand in Melbourne on Sunday in the final of the cricket World Cup.
In a packed and raucous Sydney Cricket Ground, the defending champions were well beaten by an Australian side in which Steve Smith shone.
His 105 from 93 balls enabled the Aussies to reach 328 for 7 in their 50 overs, a total that proved way out of reach for their opponents. "We thought 330 was around par, we knew we had to bowl and field well and the boys did a great job so roll on Melbourne!" exclaimed Smith, who was named Man of the Match.
After a relatively lean few years, Australian cricket is in rude health once more and on Sunday they'll be chasing their fifth world crown, no mean achievement considering no other country has won more than two.
"It's going to be an amazing moment to play a World Cup final against New Zealand – they've played some very good cricket," said Smith. "I hope I have more runs in the bank – a big hundred would be nice."
His century, and a patient 81 by opener Aaron Finch, was the foundation on which Australia compiled their total, and India were always struggling to keep up the chase when their innings began.
Though openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma put on 76 for the first wicket, their dismissals in quick succession, along with that of Virat Khoni, piled the pressure on the Indians and ultimately only captain MS Dhoni managed to make a half-century.
"They started quite well but never really got away from us," explained Smith. "Once we got the first wicket we were away. We have match-winners and they were able to do their stuff today."
Mitchell Johnson, Josh Hazelwood and James Faulkner all picked up wickets for Australia but the pick of their bowlers was Mitch Starc, whose figures of two for 28 in 8.5 overs were outstanding in the circumstances. "Over 300 is a very big score to chase, but I thought it was just over par," reflected Dhoni. "I felt the fast bowlers would have done slightly better. A lot of people didn't think we would get this far in the tournament, but in the knockout stages you have to raise your game."
Though New Zealand beat Australia when the sides met in the group stages earlier in the tournament, Smith had this warning for the Kiwis ahead of Sunday's final. "We said we want to be playing our best cricket at the end of the tournament," he said. "I don't think we've put a full game together yet so hopefully we will do that for the final."