STAR PREVIEW: New Zealand v Australia

This World Cup has given us more than a few decent matches but if both New Zealand and Australia play to form in today’s day-nighter then fans should be in for a proper treat.

Team selection is going to be fascinating, as the Aussies, who have peaked just at the right time, are already confirmed semi-finalists in the tournament following their deeply impressive win over England and on the balance of what’s been seen so far, they probably deserve their position as favourites against New Zealand.

Their 64 run win against England was one of the more impressive performances that the tournament’s seen so far, especially with a bowling performance that made a total of 285/7 look far better than one would initially have thought given the strong start Aaron Finch and David Warner made.

Mitchell Starc has 19 wickets in the tournament already and was instrumental with four against England but perhaps the biggest benefit going forward was the virtuosos performance of Jason Behrendorff, who took 5-44 in midweek, and backed up by Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummings, it’s clear that they give Finch an excellent bowling hand.

That is something which The Black Caps have already used plenty of times. In their five wins so far their frontline quicks Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult and Matt Henry have combined for 32 wickets so far and they’ve all been ably supported by Jimmy Neesham (7 wickets at an economy of 19).

No side that made 300 or more against them and such bowling has been instrumental in quickly building one of the tournament’s best records. However, their batting has not shown the same consistency., Kane Williamson has been one of the best batsmen of the tournament but he has scored 211 more runs than Ross Taylor, the Black Caps’ next best batsman.

Against Pakistan Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor and Tom Latham got a maximum score of 12 between them before their bowlers couldn’t for bail them out and whilst Jimmy Neesham and Colin De Grandhomme have plenty of skill and power down the order, it must be seen as a weakness that they’ve not managed to plug so far.

Depending on Australia picking a full strength team, it will be put to the test once again, but neither of them makes appeal at the match prices given that Australia could make changes – they are already through – but look to have comfortably more firepower on hand with David Warner (500 runs this tournament) and Aaron Finch (497 runs) averaging above 50 for the tournament whilst Steve Smith has three half-centuries so far.

If they do decide to stick with their first choice lineup, then Warner makes appeal to be the top batsman. He’s scored his runs at a quicker rate than Finch and looked set to make way more than 53 before he holed out innocuously against England in midweek. That showed him to be in good sync on the Lord’s surface and he can set a commanding target even against New Zealand’s quality bowling outfits.

With ball in hand, if Mitchell Starc is selected he is the obvious choice to lead the way. Starc has 19 wickets – three more than any bowler – and in seven matches he’s been the top wicket taker in two, tied once, and was beaten only by a five-fer by team-mate Jason Behrendoff in midweek.

For New Zealand, one gets the feeling that much of their betting total will revolve around Kane Williamson. He has already played the key role in winning two games so far, bettering them past South Africa and then blasting over half their total in what turned out to be a thriller against the West Indies before taking the match-winning catch. The top orders’ lack of form is giving him regular chances and he’s been taking them with aplomb – in this tournament he has scores of 79, 106, 148 and 41. On this form, he has a favourite’s chance and the 5/2 is fair.

Australia have batted well but there are wickets they can give away through the middle and lower orders and Lockie Ferguson might be more capable of doing so. He couldn’t get much change against Pakistan but he had 4/37 against Afghanistan, and then 3/59 against South Africa and the Windies. Lord’s has suited the pace bowlers who have been there so far and he looks to be in the best touch.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Mitchell Starc Australia Top Wicket Taker 1 pt at 5/2 with starsports.bet
BACK David Warner Australia Top Run Scorer 1 pt at 5/2 with starsports.bet
BACK Kane Williamson New Zealand Top Run Scorer 1 pt at 5/2 with starsports.bet
BACK Lockie Ferguson New Zealand Top Wicket Taker 1 pt at 7/2 with starsports.bet


PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 226.54 points
(excluding Cricket World Cup ante-post, Rocket Mortgage Classic)