Short destroys Heat as Hurricanes limp over the line

Brisbane Heat vs Hobart Hurricanes
Hobart Hurricanes 179-4 (Short 122*, Cutting 27-2, Steketee 51-2) def Brisbane Heat 176-8 (Heazlett 45, McCullum 33, Ross 27, Peirson 26*, Boyce 23-2) by 3 runs at the Gabba

The ball flew high into the air off D’Arcy Short’s bat. Short was on 60 at the time and looking ominous as he continued his brilliant 2018 form, but this ball presented the Brisbane Heat with a chance to remove him. It was set to land inside the ring as Joe Burns positioned himself under the catch, looking slightly tentative. It broke through his hands and fell to the Gabba turf, as Alex Ross watched on in close proximity. Had he taken it, the Heat probably would have come away with the win. He didn’t take it, and Short went on to 122 not out, single-handedly taking the Hobart Hurricanes to a fourth straight victory which puts them on the edge of the top four.

Short’s innings, the highest in the history of the BBL, was the story of the Hurricanes’ batting effort. He found a perfect symbiosis of patience and explosivity, and every shot was played with poise, power and a still head. For large parts of the innings he was content to knock around singles, but when the Heat were starting to get on top he would knock them back with a flurry of boundaries. The first such burst came as the Hurricanes appeared to be heading for an unsatisfactory PowerPlay. He stepped in with a series of cuts and pulls when Mark Steketee and Brendan Doggett dropped short. He did it again through the middle just after his reprieve, belting Steketee for a massive six through mid-wicket and hitting Ben Cutting for a series of fours. Now, for the third time in four innings, he found himself in the nineties, once again tantalisingly close in his pursuit of the elusive ton. It had been a stumbling block in the past, but when Doggett’s half-volley was launched over the head of long-on into the stands, the stumbling block had been overcome. His celebration showed no sign of relief, only a desire to get back to business. When Steketee dropped short in the last over, he was punished, as Short brought up a record BBL score with a hat-trick of sixes to the massive leg-side boundary.

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At long last: D’Arcy Short raises his bat after bringing up the first century of the season.

If only his partners had been half as good. While Short carted the bowlers for 122, his teammates could only flounder around hitting singles at the other end. Alex Doolan never found form before he edged one from Steketee onto his stumps. Matthew Wade’s innings presented the Heat with a litany of chances from the moment he inside edged his second ball past the stumps and a diving Jimmy Peirson for four. Over the course of a streaky innings he was dropped by Yasir Shah and two catches fell agonisingly short of fielders before he holed out against a short, leg-side ball from Cutting. Ben McDermott hit a towering six against the bowling of Yasir, but couldn’t do anything else before he picked out Ross, and George Bailey looked to be in horrible form as he occupied the crease in the final overs. The final tally of 179 was big, but it was hard to escape the feeling that they should have done a lot better.

The run chase had a bit of everything: a fast start and a subsequent recovery that looked to have extinguished the Heat’s hopes, a dose of controversy emanating from a shocking umpiring decision and a rapid finish provoked by some horrible death bowling. Sam Heazlett and Brendon McCullum got the Heat off to a flying start, belting Simon Milenko and Clive Rose to all parts on their way to a PowerPlay total of 0/62. The Heat looked unstoppable, and when Tymal Mills put down a straightforward catch as McCullum helped one from Jofra Archer straight down his throat at short fine-leg he looked to have given the Heat captain a very costly reprieve. Then came the recovery. It was started by Cameron Boyce, who removed McCullum just after the conclusion of the PowerPlay, and continued by the very occasional left-arm leg-spin of Short. Short made his only mistake of the night by dropping Burns, but it didn’t matter too much as Burns was gone shortly afterwards, and when the centurion trapped Heazlett plumb in front the Heat were in serious trouble.

At this point Archer stepped up to deliver a moment of skill and swagger which appeared to snuff out the Heat’s hopes. With the Heat needing nearly 12 an over, Cutting looked to be the only man capable of scoring quickly enough to get them over the line, even with Ross showing good form at the other end. Archer’s first ball to Cutting was a full, 147 kph thunderbolt, and it was hit back with equal vigour. The ball flew off Cutting’s bat, and looked destined for the boundary. The umpire was ducking out of the way. Archer simply stuck his right hand into the air and came down with the ball. It was as if the Gabba froze, first in confusion, then in disbelief. Archer was merely staring Cutting down, before nonchalantly turning on his heel and tossing it back over his shoulder. Cutting could only stand there, scarcely believing what had just transpired.

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Controversial: Alex Ross (right) slides to make his ground. He was given out for obstructing the field.

Then came the controversy. With 49 runs required from 19 balls, the Heat were not in a great position. Ross, however, was still there, and looking in fairly good touch. If they were to pull off an unlikely heist, it felt like he would need to be there to do it. An otherwise innocuous throw from the boundary ricocheted off Ross’ body onto the stumps. The umpires went upstairs to look at the run out chance (he was clearly in) but as they continued to look at replays for much longer than they should have it was clear that something was amiss. It was like watching a car crash unfold in slow motion. The longer they looked, the clearer it was that a nonsensical verdict of obstructing the field was coming, but nothing could be done to stop it. The letter of the law, and its practical application, was completely ignored, and Ross was sent on his way. It was a howler, plain and simple, and it left the Heat in dire straights.

Then the Hurricanes put on a baffling display that nearly cost them the game. Rose had been withheld from the attack until the eighteenth over, but now Bailey seemed to decide that the game was safely in their hands. He was hit for two sixes, with Jimmy Peirson denting the sightscreen with a particularly forceful blow. Then Archer decided to come around the wicket and was flayed by Peirson through a poorly thought-out field, and they had put themselves back under the pump. The Heat needed 13 from the last over. It was chaos. Doggett was forced to make two spectacular dives to save himself from being run out, and after a series of bizarre events the Heat needed four off the last ball, with the well-set Peirson having denied himself the strike due to some odd running between the wickets. Not to be outdone, Dan Christian put one straight in the slot, but Doggett was not good enough to get it away. The Hurricanes came out of a night that had it all with a big win, and the Heat were left to rue what might have been.

Top 5
1. D’Arcy Short (Hobart Hurricanes)
Short had been threatening to bring up the season’s first century ever since 2018 began, and he finally achieved the feat with a quality display of controlled power. His series of sixes at the end of the innings lifted the Hurricanes to 179, and he played a big role in the defence with his tidy left-arm leg-spin. It was a perfect night for him, and continues his push for international honours.
2. Cameron Boyce (Hobart Hurricanes)
Boyce turned the game around for the Hurricanes by removing McCullum and Burns after the Heat dominated the PowerPlay, and keeping things tight with his accurate leg-spin. His combination with Short through the middle overs took away the Heat’s momentum, and his continued improvement as the season has gone on bodes well for the Hurricanes.
3. Sam Heazlett (Brisbane Heat)
Heazlett fell just short of a half-century, but his ability to hit the ball cleanly on both sides of the wicket allowed the Heat to get off to a fast start and give the Hurricanes a massive early scare. He was slightly bogged down when the spinners entered the game, but he still hit a classy six off Boyce towards the end of his innings and showed promise as a replacement for Lynn at the top of the order.
4. Brendon McCullum (Brisbane Heat)
McCullum was as aggressive as ever in starting his innings, putting all the bowlers under immense pressure as the Heat took full advantage of the PowerPlay. He hit some nice boundaries against all the bowlers, and looked ready to take the game away from the Hurricanes before his untimely dismissal.
5. James Peirson (Brisbane Heat)
Peirson has gone from strength to strength since dropping down the order to number 7, and the powerful keeper-batsman nearly stole the game from the Hurricanes with an clinical display of power in the final overs. His six against Rose was hit so powerfully it left a hole in the sightscreen, and had he been on strike at the end the outcome may have been different.

Bash Brothers shine to make short work of Stars

Melbourne Stars vs Brisbane Heat
Melbourne Stars 141-7 (Maxwell 50, Pietersen 30, Swepson 14-3) lost to Brisbane Heat 144-1 (Lynn 63*, McCullum 61) by 9 wickets at MCG

James Faulkner was the bowler. Chris Lynn, promoted to open the innings, was on strike, facing his third ball. He tried to hit the ball hard, possibly too hard. It was a catch for John Hastings, who took a couple of steps to his right at mid-off. He fumbled once, then did it again. It was as if time stood still as the ball bobbled in the hands of the Melbourne Stars captain. Three grabs, four, and he still hadn’t pinned it down. It wasn’t clear how many chances he had to take it, even with all eyes affixed to the juggling act in anticipation or nervousness. And then it fell, rolling on the ground. There was no chance of stealing a single: Lynn and Brendon McCullum, the simultaneously feared and admired Bash Brothers, were frozen where they stood, hearts in mouths. As the game wound to an inevitable conclusion with Lynn pounding the ball to all areas of the MCG, the Stars could only rue the missed chance.

Lynn was out of form to start his innings, and it was McCullum who filled the void. He shimmied down the pitch with rapid footwork against pacemen and spinners alike, and began to make short work of the Stars’ below par 141. The Stars had flooded their line-up with spinners in an attempt to quell the Brisbane Heat’s dynamic openers, but it had no impact as McCullum drilled them for towering sixes and crushing fours. As Lynn battled to stay alive, with Adam Zampa even managing to nick his leg stump without any disturbance to the wicket, his captain thrived, and the game seemed to slip away from the hosts with every ball the pair faced.

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Majestic: Chris Lynn hits the ball to the leg side during his unbeaten 63.

Then Lynn started to get a move on. His first six came at the end of the seventh over, with the ball nowhere near the middle but gaining just enough traction to elude Rob Quiney’s outstretched hand on the rope. His next big hits were much more convincing. Hastings was drilled over square leg and carved through point, and only avoided being hit for a second six by virtue of a brilliant effort from Glenn Maxwell, who caught the ball inbounds before tossing it back over the rope as he hung in the void between the field of play and the crowd. Liam Bowe was introduced into the attack, and McCullum took full toll with a six and a pair of fours to pass fifty, before he was dismissed. He attempted one big shot too many, and Bowe claimed his scalp as Quiney calmly took the catch, but the game had already passed the Stars by.

The rest of the runs were knocked off in no time at all. Joe Burns came out and played with effortless timing, and Lynn passed his fifty with a massive six and an outside edge off the bowling of Marcus Stoinis, perfectly summing up an innings containing an incongruous combination of scratchy edges and beautifully hit sixes. He finished the game with a four over cover, backing away against Michael Beer and smashing it through the vacant off side. The Heat were just too good.

Earlier, the Stars had never found enough fluency with the bat, despite some promising signs. Luke Wright and Kevin Pietersen recovered from the early loss of Ben Dunk with a well-constructed 43-run stand. Both were dropped early and looked set to make the Heat pay for their errant fielding, with Pietersen timing the ball perfectly on both sides of the wicket and Wright especially proficient when cutting. Then the PowerPlay ended, and the troubles began.

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Man in form: Mitchell Swepson celebrates the removal of Kevin Pietersen.

The Stars’ woes were caused by the Heat’s spin twins of Yasir Shah and Mitchell Swepson. Yasir had bagged the first wicket by trapping Dunk in front of middle stump, and returned to the attack in the middle overs to keep the runs down and the pressure on. At the other end, Swepson took over. Wright was trapped in no man’s land after running down the wicket, and Jimmy Peirson whipped off the bails. Pietersen, having compiled a fluent 30, attempted an ill-fated loft and was caught. Soon, the pressure was too much, and when Stoinis was run out and Quiney meekly bunted his second ball back to Swepson to gift him a third wicket the Stars were in all sorts of trouble. It was Maxwell who provided the maturity and the power to give them something to defend.

Maxwell came in when Wright departed and started uncharacteristically slowly. It took 13 balls before he hit his first boundary with an effortless upper cut just wide of the keeper, but it was an anomaly in an anomalously cautious innings rather than the start of a blistering cameo. As wickets tumbled at the other end, he was reduced to knocking singles around. For one fleeting moment, as the innings wrapped up, it looked as if he was going to hit his dominant best. Brendan Doggett was slapped straight and Mark Steketee was hit for a trio of fours, with the third of these bringing up his half-century, and with just two overs to go it looked as if he could get them to a competitive score.

Then he holed out, and the innings never threatened to reach such heights again. James Faulkner couldn’t find his form or his timing, and John Hastings’ effort was as entertaining as it was brief, with the first ball knocking off his helmet and the second providing his downfall. Even on the vast expanses of the MCG, 7/141 seemed well below par. It looked absolutely miniscule by the time Lynn and McCullum had dealt with it. The winless Stars were just no match for the dominance of the Heat at their best, and need some big changes if they are to save their floundering campaign.

Top 5
1. Brendon McCullum (Brisbane Heat)
The Stars came out with a clear plan to stifle McCullum, and he found a way to tear them apart anyway. He hit the ball with plenty of power and his aggressive spirit remained intact throughout as he shepherded a struggling Lynn through the PowerPlay while striking a series of lusty blows. His rapid-fire 61 was too much for the Stars to handle, as he returned to his best form in a big way.
2. Mitchell Swepson (Brisbane Heat)
Swepson was the star of the Heat’s bowling effort, keeping the runs down and driving a wedge through the Stars’ middle order on his way to a crucial 3/14. His dismissals of the well-set Wright and Pietersen proved too much for the Stars to deal with, and he looks to be bowling with plenty of skill and confidence.
3. Chris Lynn (Brisbane Heat)
Lynn was nowhere near his best form, but he made 63 anyway. He should have been out with the third ball of the innings, but he made the most of his reprieve and showed signs of his best ball striking with a wonderful six over square leg. He showed excellent fight, and his ability to score big runs despite poor form should sound a warning to the rest of the competition.
4. Glenn Maxwell (Melbourne Stars)
Maxwell gave the Stars something to defend with a fighting half-century, and showed a maturity which had been sorely lacking in his first two innings of the Big Bash. Once he started finding the middle he looked very tough to stop, and the Stars will be needing all the destructive power he can muster if they are to rectify their slump.
5. Yasir Shah (Brisbane Heat)
Yasir bowled well at the start of the innings and returned to great effect through the middle overs. He picked up the big early wicket of Dunk, and bowled beautifully in conjunction with Swepson to put the Stars under the pump. He has found plenty of control and penetration in his first games in Australia, and looks to be a very good pick-up for the Heat.

Solid Heat overcome Stoinis blitz

Brisbane Heat vs Melbourne Stars
Brisbane Heat 206-7 (Ross 51, Burns 50, McCullum 40, Cutting 35, Stoinis 38-3, Beer 21-2) def Melbourne Stars 191-6 (Stoinis 99, Faulkner 47*, Shadab 41-2) by 15 runs at the Gabba

18 runs required off three balls. At this point, the Melbourne Stars still had a mathematical chance of scoring a remarkable win over the Brisbane Heat. Mathematical chance, however, is code for no chance at all. When Marcus Stoinis hit the next ball from Mark Steketee, it wasn’t a six. Instead, it was dropped on the fence by sub fielder Marnus Labuschagne, who proceeded to run Stoinis out as he attempted a second. Stoinis was on 99. On another day, given different circumstances, he would have made a deserved century. Instead, he was inches short. The Stars, chasing the Heat’s formidable 206, were not so close.

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So close: Marcus Stoinis walks off after being run out for 99.

Stoinis had come to the crease following the fall of Glenn Maxwell, who missed out on selection for the Test team and proceeded to score a destructive 278 in his next outing. He looked like a man in form, but holed out to a half-tracker from Shadab Khan before he could prove it. Ben Dunk, the club’s marquee recruit, had been out for a duck, his innings over so quickly that anyone a little late in returning to the action following the innings break would have missed it. Kevin Pietersen had looked good, but drilled a catch straight to Brendon McCullum straight after hitting a big six. Stoinis hit his second ball for six, off Shadab. The ball barely appeared to have travelled off the bat, and Stoinis didn’t seem to swing hard at it, but it just kept travelling. It was then that the Heat should have been worried.

All of his shots looked like that as he continued to make headway against some very good bowling, with young leggie Mitchell Swepson showing his impressive credentials by turning the ball both ways and staying calm under pressure. By this time Luke Wright, who had survived the collapse, was also out, bowled by a beautiful change-up from Shadab. The score was 4/53. Stoinis hit two more nonchalant sixes off Shadab, and continued to turn the strike over with precision and confidence when the boundaries weren’t coming. When Ben Cutting entered the attack, he finally exploded. At the start of the over, he was 42, and fours over mid-on and mid-off brought up 50. A six over mid-wicket was followed with an attempted uppercut, with Stoinis’ annoyed utterance of ‘knew it’ into the stump mic showing how in tune he was with the game. The next one went over the rope too, making 22 off the over and 64 in total. Stoinis looked set to go.

Yet he continued to be patient, waiting for his ball and showing a rare piece of touch by reverse sweeping Shadab through a vacant third man. James Faulkner, his partner, had begun to get going, and the formidable target was no longer completely out of reach. The next two overs passed without incident, however, and it was done long before they needed 24 off the last over, a target required despite a boundary-laden 19th over. Stoinis was on 92, but couldn’t find the rope. The Heat were deserved winners, and Stoinis a deserved man of the match. The Stars just had too many passengers.

Brendon McCullum had given the Heat’s innings the kick they were after. He hit his first ball for four, and capitalised when Scott Boland bowled right into the Heat captain’s zone – three balls in a row – on his way to conceding 24 off his first over. John Hastings, the new captain of the Stars, did not fare much better, his second ball plastered over mid-wicket on what was, admittedly a great batting wicket. While the quicks struggled, Michael Beer bowled as well as ever, tying the Heat down and limiting their PowerPlay score to 57 while bagging two wickets. Jimmy Peirson gave John Hastings catching practice with a shot that can best be described as a soft aerial bunt, and Sam Heazlett’s frustration got to him as he slogged and found the same fielder with the last ball of the PowerPlay.

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Joe Burns hits to the leg side during his 50.

Stoinis bagged McCullum for 40 three balls after Heazlett, and at 3/61 the Heat were in trouble, especially without their star man. With Chris Lynn tantalisingly close to the action but so far away, Joe Burns and Alex Ross set about their recovery mission against some solid bowling. Eventually it was Burns who got away, hitting Stoinis for a big six and giving the innings a further boost by slapping Hastings to all corners of the Gabba. He was out (to Stoinis, again) the ball after bringing up his half-century with a six, and Ben Cutting continued the assault while Ross just kept on batting.

Showing off the hitting that once elevated him into the Australian team, Cutting sent the ball flying off the middle of the bat, with Ross providing steady company. Boland and Hastings were plundered yet again, both finishing 48 off their three overs. Boland received some gratification with the wicket of Ross, but their costly full tosses in the closing overs proved too much for the Stars to overcome, and the Heat’s steady performance was more than enough to see them over the line. The Heat were a cut above in every respect, and showed a level of depth which should send a strong message to the rest of the league.

Top 5
1. Marcus Stoinis (Melbourne Stars)
Stoinis was on the losing side, but he was a cut above the rest, scoring more runs and taking more wickets than anyone else and batting with brutal power and perfect timing. He was unlucky not to get a century, and his bowling was more effective than most on a Gabba pitch which was perfect for batting. Needed a lot more support from his teammates.
2. Joe Burns (Brisbane Heat)
Burns ensured the non-presence of Lynn was not an issue with a composed but powerful half-century, finding the boundary well when he got going and suggesting that he could be in for a big season. He picked up an injury along the way, and the Heat will hope that it’s not too serious.
3. Brendon McCullum (Brisbane Heat)
McCullum kickstarted the innings in his trademark style, hitting plenty of boundaries and getting his side off to flying start. His captaincy was as bold and brash as his batting and allowed the Heat to put the Stars under the pump, and his fielding was as athletic as ever in a great all round showing.
4. Alex Ross (Brisbane Heat)
While Burns and Cutting provided the power, Ross was the steadying presence through the middle overs, hitting some nice boundaries but mostly turning the strike over. He came in under pressure and delivered, and his running between the wickets was first rate.
5. James Faulkner (Melbourne Stars)
After only bowling one over in the Heat’s innings, Faulkner played an effective second fiddle to Stoinis during their 137-run partnership. He finished three runs short of a half-century, and never looked in top form, but he became more fluent as the innings progressed and hit the ball with good power towards the end.

New Zealand must play like they have nothing to lose

2015 Cricket World Cup Final preview

After 48 matches, 12 teams knocked out and countless memories we have reached the closing stage of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. It is time for the final, and one could not hope for a better two teams to be playing in it. Australia and New Zealand compete in numerous other sports, but historically cricket has been one of the sports in which contests between the two hold less value, mainly due to a lack of quality in the New Zealand team. Now, however, it is different, as some great young talent, aggressive captaincy by McCullum and some confidence-boosting wins early on in their campaign have set up a final with Australia, who they beat in dramatic circumstances at Eden Park earlier in the tournament.

Teams

It is likely that both Australia and New Zealand, barring injury, will enter the match unchanged. There are no real selection queries that need to be answered, especially given the effortless manner with which Matt Henry replaced an injured Adam Milne against South Africa.
Australia (likely): David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
New Zealand (likely): Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.

Strategy

Australia must look to remove Brendon McCullum from the game early. They should look to bat first, as they will struggle to chase much more than 250 against the New Zealand attack. If they can post a 330 total and remove McCullum for less than 20 they will have gone a long way to winning the tournament. When batting they need Finch, Warner, Smith and Clarke to make it to around the 35-over mark to give Maxwell time to do maximum damage.

New Zealand will be helped by the fact that the game-plans of Australia and South Africa, who they played in the semis, are very similar with the bat. If New Zealand can get Maxwell in with over half the innings to go, like they did in Auckland, they will go a very long way to winning this final. When they bat New Zealand must not be worried by the occasion and especially not the opponent. If New Zealand start to put pressure on themselves to win then they will play less aggressively, and this does not help their cause.

Key Players

Solid Batsman: Steve Smith (Australia) and Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Smith is by no means a defensive player, and neither is Williamson, but both will be relied upon to bat time and make as big a score as possible. After a slow start to the tournament Smith seems to be peaking at the right time, while for Williamson this is a chance to build a reputation as one of the calmest batsmen in world cricket.

Strike Bowler: Mitchell Starc (Australia) and Trent Boult (New Zealand)
These two left-armers are the most prolific bowlers at this World Cup, and it is due in no small part to an ability to strike with precise and dangerous yorkers. While Josh Hazlewood and James Faulkner have just started to fire Starc is still the one Australia rely upon for wickets. Boult bowls mainly at the start of the innings and he will be trying for the early strikes New Zealand desperately need.

Slogger: Glenn Maxwell (Australia) and Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
Again these two players are very different in their styles. While Maxwell bats to the field McCullum uses his brute strength to muscle the ball to whatever boundary he sees fit. They also bat at different times, with McCullum batting at the start while Maxwell bats at the end of the innings. Each will be relied upon to dramatically boost the run rate throughout their time at the crease and score some decent runs.

Middle-Overs Bowler: Josh Hazlewood (Australia) and Daniel Vettori (New Zealand)
Hazlewood only established his place in the side recently after poor games against England and Afghanistan. He came back for the quarter final and since then his reliable line, length and bounce has returned. Vettori, on the other hand, has been one of the best bowlers in a tournament where unfair restrictions have led to many spinners being smashed. He has been clever and against Australia he was crucial in stopping the quick runs being scored by Warner and Finch.

Prediction

I think that the outcome of this game depends on how New Zealand approach it. If they play like they have nothing to lose their chances of victory will rise, but if they put pressure on themselves the Australians will win easily. I think that against Australia it will be very difficult for New Zealand to play without inhibitions and so I expect Australia to win. As for the margin, it depends on how New Zealand play.

New Zealand and South Africa look to prove themselves

2015 ICC Cricket World Cup semi-final preview – New Zealand vs South Africa

Teams

Both sides should remain unchanged after resounding victories in their quarter-finals, although South Africa still seem to be debating which of Vernon Philander and Kyle Abbott should play. As a result it is possible that Abbott could be an omission from the team.
New Zealand (likely): Guptill, McCullum, Williamson, Taylor, Anderson, Elliot, Ronchi, Vettori, Southee, Milne, Boult.
South Africa (likely): Amla, de Kock, du Plessis, Rossouw, de Villiers, Miller, Duminy, Abbott/Philander, Steyn, Morkel, Tahir.

Tactics

During the World Cup both sides have had clear preferences as to batting or bowling first. The South Africans have struggled chasing, but when batting first they have scored 339, 408, 411 and 341. New Zealand, on the other hand, have looked good fielding first and knocking the other side over for less than 200. This plan may work against the South Africans, but either way New Zealand should try to avoid setting. While they fell just 7 runs short of 400 in their quarter final almost all of that was Martin Guptill’s innings of 237 not out. South Africa will look to bat first, get runs on the board and put New Zealand under pressure.

Key Players

Martin Guptill (New Zealand)
Guptill will be relied upon to make more runs than any other player in the New Zealand team. He is in brilliant form and has made scores of 57, 105 and 237 not out in his last three games. South Africa will look to knock him over quickly.

Hashim Amla (South Africa)
Amla plays a very steady hand in South Africa’s team, and their batting strategy is built around Amla and Faf du Plessis setting up AB de Villiers for the last fifteen overs. Amla will not bat particularly quickly, but his technique is unsurpassed and he will be difficult to get out.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Williamson will be called upon at number three if there is an early wicket, and he will bat for as long as he can. He has a very cool head, as shown by his match-winning innings against Australia. He will be relied upon to string together partnerships and add to his one half-century for the World Cup.

Dale Steyn (South Africa)
Steyn is very economical at the start of the innings, but it is his wicket-taking South Africa will depend upon. If he can claim the prize scalps of McCullum and Guptill then he will have taken South Africa a long way towards putting New Zealand out of the tournament.

Trent Boult (New Zealand)
Boult will be looking to break the South African batting open like he did to the West Indies on Saturday. He has 19 wickets for the tournament, and he has dismissed some of the best players, including an in-form Kumar Sangakkara. He will need to knock over one or both of the openers early.

Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
Du Plessis has to occupy the crease with Amla, de Kock and possibly Rossouw so that de Villiers can do maximum damage. He is cool under pressure and his batting this tournament has been very good. If he can make a few runs he will be a big factor.

Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)
McCullum is an aggressive opening bat who will look to attack South Africa from the first ball. The Eden Park boundaries are small, and if he clears them regularly it will be very hard for South Africa. His and Martin Guptill’s are the key wickets at the start of the innings.

Imran Tahir (South Africa)
Tahir has been one of the most impressive spinners this tournament has seen. He has taken more wickets than any other South African bowler and has kept the runs down admirably. Today he will look to plug up scoring in the middle overs, much like Daniel Vettori will do for the kiwis.

Prediction

While New Zealand have been practically flawless this tournament they will be under great pressure. They are still a young side, and the more experienced South Africans, having finally won a knockout match, will be very hard to knock off. South Africa to win a close one.

 

New Zealand edge out Australia in low-scoring thriller

Australia 151 (Haddin 43, Boult 27-5) lost to New Zealand 152-9 (McCullum 50, Williamson 45*, Starc 28-6)

In the lead-up to the much-anticipated match between New Zealand and Australia at Eden Park much was made of the big-hitters from both sides and the small boundaries, but it was two left-arm quicks who provided the fans with what was the best match of the tournament so far. The Australians won the toss and elected to bat first, and the New Zealand bowlers struggled to find early direction, against Aaron Finch and David Warner. An early wicket to Tim Southee did not aid the run rate, and New Zealand were under pressure when veteran spinner Daniel Vettori was introduced into the attack. What ensued was some spin bowling of the highest order, which dramatically slowed the run rate. The score was sitting at 80-1 when Vettori struck, removing Shane Watson after a 50-run stand with Warner. Watson was out as he so often is, caught playing a rash shot, and it only took one ball for the partnership between Warner and Michael Clarke to be broken, the opener trapped leg before by Southee. Clarke and Steve Smith looked to consolidate, but when Smith edged Vettori behind the collapse began. Trent Boult had both Glenn Maxwell and Mitch Marsh chop the ball on to their own stumps within 3 balls, and then had Clarke caught off an uppish drive. Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc were also out in quick succession, and so Australia found themselves at 9-106 and wondering what had happened. A last wicket partnership of 45 between keeper Brad Haddin and Pat Cummins dragged the Australians over 150, but it did not look like enough against a dynamic Kiwi line-up.

Things started badly for Australia, as Martin Guptill and Brendon McCullum attacked the bowling, with 40 on the board after around 4 overs when Guptill chipped Starc to the waiting arms of Cummins. McCullum continued to attack despite a painful blow on the arm, reaching his 50 off 21 balls to come close to beating the record he set on Friday with a half-century off just 18. He was out to Cummins a few balls later, and when Starc knocked over Ross Taylor for one it was 79-3 and New Zealand looked slightly shaky. Nerves really began to set in when Grant Elliot, playing more like a tentative tail-ender than a number 5 batsman, was bowled first ball, but Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson consolidated. The pair put on 52 to take the score to 131 when Anderson was out chipping the ball straight to Cummins at mid-wicket. At that stage, and even when keeper Luke Ronchi was out to Starc, it looked a case of too little too late. When Vettori was out to a Cummins full toss with just 7 needed, however, Australia looked like they could just be back in it. This was when Mitchell Starc struck. He knocked over Adam Milne with a yorker many top batsmen would struggle to dig out, and he smashed Southee’s off stump with a ball of equal vigour. The equation was now 6 runs with one wicket in hand, and Boult was the man in. Boult played out the hat-trick ball, before Starc missed his line, and the stumps, with the final delivery of his ninth over. This gave Williamson a chance to finish it against Cummins, and with a gutsy shot over long on he did it, confirming a victory that all but confirms a top-placed finish for New Zealand in Group A.

Scorecard
Australia innings

Batsman How out R B SR 4 6
A Finch b Southee 14 7 200.00 1 1
D Warner lbw Southee 34 42 80.95 2 1
S Watson c Southee b Vettori 23 30 76.66 2 0
M Clarke c Williamson b Boult 12 18 66.66 1 0
S Smith c Ronchi b Vettori 4 11 36.36 0 0
G Maxwell b Boult 1 3 33.33 0 0
M Marsh b Boult 0 2 0.00 0 0
B Haddin c sub (Latham) b Anderson 43 41 104.87 4 2
M Johnson c Williamson b Boult 1 7 14.28 0 0
M Starc b Boult 0 3 0.00 0 0
P Cummins not out 7 30 23.33 1 0
Extras (4b, 2lb, 6w) 12
Total (all out, 32.2 overs) 151

Fall: 30 (Finch), 80 (Watson), 80 (Warner), 95 (Smith), 96 (Maxwell), 97 (Marsh), 104 (Clarke), 106 (Johnson), 106 (Starc), 151 (Haddin).

Bowling O M R W E
T Southee 9 0 65 2 7.22
T Boult 10 3 27 5 2.70
D Vettori 10 0 41 2 4.10
A Milne 3 0 6 0 2.00
C Anderson 0.2 0 6 1 18.00

 

New Zealand innings

Batsman How out R B SR 4 6
M Guptill c Cummins b Starc 11 14 78.57 1 1
B McCullum c Starc b Cummins 50 24 208.33 7 3
K Williamson not out 45 42 107.14 5 1
R Taylor b Starc 1 2 50.00 0 0
G Elliot b Starc 0 1 0.00 0 0
C Anderson c Cummins b Maxwell 26 42 61.90 2 1
L Ronchi c Haddin b Starc 6 7 85.71 0 1
D Vettori c Warner b Cummins 2 3 66.66 0 0
A Milne b Starc 0 2 0.00 0 0
T Southee b Starc 0 1 0.00 0 0
T Boult not out 0 2 0.00 0 0
Extras (10w, 1nb) 11
Total (9 wickets, 23.1 overs) 152

Fall: 40 (Guptill), 78 (McCullum), 79 (Taylor), 79 (Elliot), 131 (Anderson), 139 (Ronchi), 145 (Vettori), 146 (Milne), 146 (Southee).

Bowling O M R W E
M Johnson 6 1 68 0 11.33
M Starc 9 0 28 6 3.11
P Cummins 6.1 0 38 2 6.16
M Marsh 1 0 11 0 11.00
G Maxwell 1 0 7 1 7.00

New Zealand won by 1 wicket (with 161 balls remaining)
Toss: Australia, who chose to bat
Player of the match: Trent Boult (New Zealand)
Umpires: Marais Erasmus (South Africa), Richard Illingworth (England)
Points: New Zealand 2, Australia 0