Title favourites New Zealand and Australia set to square off at Lord’s - GulfToday

Title favourites New Zealand and Australia set to square off at Lord’s

Trent Boult

New Zealand’s Trent Boult plays football during a training session at Lord’s in London on Friday. Agence France-Presse

London: Another high-octane clash in the ongoing ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is on cards as two top contenders for the coveted trophy - New Zealand and Australia - are set to square-off at the historic Lord’s Cricket Ground in London on Saturday.

Presently, both Australia and New Zealand are comfortably placed in the points-table. While defending champions Australia is the only team to have booked a semi-final berth, the Kiwis, who are placed third, are a point away from it.

The Kane Williamson-led New Zealand side had the best possible start to the showpiece event as they were unbeaten in their initial six games before going down against Pakistan. It is their bowling attack which has performed in every game but their batting looks a bit average.

Pacer Lockie Ferguson has led their pace attack after bagging 15 wickets from six games.

Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme have not been amongst wickets, however, they both have handed good support to Ferguson after bowling economically.

Boult and Grandhomme have nine and five wickets from six games but they have a decent economy of 4.46 and 4.47, respectively.

The trio will once again need to replicate their show against an in-form Australian top-order.

In batting, the Kiwis have heavily relied on skipper Williamson and Ross Taylor to bail them out. In their game against Pakistan, batting-all-rounder James Neesham also gave a glimpse of how handy he can be with the bat. The Black Caps were once reeling at 46/4 against the Green Brigade before Neesham’s 112-ball 97-run valiant knock propelled them to a fighting total.

With 414 runs from five innings, Williamson averages 138 and is at the fifth place in the list of leading run-getters. A lot will depend on him against a lethal Aussie pace attack as their top-order have disappointed so far.

As for Australia, they have shown improvement with every passing game. The Aaron Finch-led side have players who can rescue them out of any tricky situations.

Openers Finch and David Warner have been the Kangaroos’ main strength. Both are the two top run-getters in this World Cup. While Warner tops the chart of leading run-getters with 500 runs from seven innings, Finch is just four runs short of him from as many games. As a pair, the duo have given great starts to their side.

The bowling has been fantastic so far as their two pacers -- Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins -- have been brilliant. Starc has 19 wickets from seven games while Cummins has scalped 11 from as many games.

Jason Behrendorff and Nathan Lyon have further added some extra depth in their bowling.

With such match winners, Australia will aim to strengthen their position at the top while the Kiwis will try to forget their dismal show in their last game and get back to the winning mode again.

Overall, after the much anticipated Indo-Pakistan rivalry got over, fans can expect another thriller on Saturday as it will be time for the Trans-Tasmanian rivalry.

Meanwhile, Australia coach Justin Langer thinks it unlikely that frontline quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will be rested at the World Cup even if the defending champions have already qualified for the semi-finals.

Langer’s side secured their spot in the last four with a 64-run win over hosts England at Lord’s on Tuesday and return to the famous north London ground on Saturday to face neighbours New Zealand in their penultimate round-robin tie.

With the Ashes test series in England to come after the World Cup, Australia might be forgiven for giving the pace duo a rest but Langer said the players would probably not want to put their feet up at any stage of the tournament.

Agence France-Presse