Friday, 20 April 2007

Preview: Australia vs New Zealand

This should be a cracking game of cricket, but the absence of Jacob Oram will likely hit the Kiwis' hard and Hamish Marshall is no like for like replacement. This would seem to be the second choice final, but you can count on the Kiwis to not rest their best. Shane Bond will be in action with the new ball and he has proven to be an Aussie nemesis in the past. Facing him will be leading run scorer Matty Hayden. Haydos has been in sublime form early on and has really found his way back to his best form since late 2005. He and Gilchrist are still the most feared opening partnership in World Cricket.

New Zealand of course have Scott Styris, another superb performer so far. They will be looking for another big innings from him, the young Ross Taylor and as ever, Stephen Fleming, with late cameos from the likes of Brendon McCullum. In Jeetan Patel and Daniel Vettori they have a wonderful spin attack to complement their quicks and medium pacers, though they may still miss the bounce of Oram. Oram's absence may also mean that New Zealand feel uncomfortable in not playing the extra quick in place of Patel though. Australia's bowling is not quite at the same level, but with the volume of runs that they often score, their bowlers are under less pressure and nobody seems to have read Brad Hogg's googly yet.

Prediction: Australia to narrowly avenge the Chappell-Hadlee Series whitewash.

Players to watch: Matthew Hayden and Shane Bond.

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