New Zealand v Australia: Defending champions unlikely to rest Starc & Cummins
Australia are unlikely to rest their fast bowlers for a Lord's clash with New Zealand that has little riding on it for the defending champions but one in which the Black Caps can clinch a semi-final spot.
A 64-run victory over tournament hosts England at the same venue on Tuesday saw Australia through to the last four but New Zealand still have work to do following defeat to Pakistan last time out.
Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff combined for nine wickets as Australia dismissed England for 221.
With qualification secured, Australia are in a position where they can rest some of their best players, but head coach Justin Langer is not expecting Starc or fellow front-line seamer Pat Cummins, who has gone wicket-less in his last two games, to be left out.
"I would be surprised if either of those guys rest up," Langer told a news conference.
"The challenge is going to be that we have long layoffs now, a bit of a layoff here, then five or six days in Manchester, we have to manage that really well. So I don't think they will want to rest."
New Zealand remain on the verge of joining Australia in the knockouts despite their Birmingham blip, though it was a poorly timed slip-up as another defeat to a side many now see as the team to beat will fray the nerves further.
But skipper Kane Williamson is not daunted by the form of their neighbours ahead of a repeat of the 2015 final.
"Australia have been playing really good cricket but when you come to a World Cup, anybody can beat anybody. We've seen that on different occasions already in this tournament," he said.
"It's going to be a great occasion. It always is when you have the opportunity to play Australia, but obviously here at this ground it's an extra exciting prospect."
Until their reverse at the hands of Pakistan, New Zealand had been faultless. They hammered Sri Lanka by 10 wickets to start the tournament and followed that emphatic win with defeats of Bangladesh and Afghanistan. A blockbuster clash with India was washed out and signs of vulnerability were there in the thrilling victories against South Africa and West Indies that preceded the Edgbaston loss.
Despite a routine win over Afghanistan in their tournament opener, Australia were not convincing early in the tournament. They held off West Indies by just 15 runs before India beat them in routine fashion, but since then Australia have gained in confidence with comfortable wins over Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and England, leading to suggestions in some quarters that they are now the favourites.
WHAT THEY SAID
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: "The conditions will be a little bit different to perhaps what they experienced the other day. It's also one of those things you can't control. So not worrying about it is probably the more important thing. So for us, it's once again, trying to adapt as quickly as possible, and stick to the sort of cricket that we want to play to give ourselves the best chance."
Australia coach Justin Langer on Pat Cummins: "He hasn't got the wickets in the last two games, but he's still been a huge part of our side. He's someone who's so reliable that you go to when you either need a wicket or you need some control in a game. He provides so much for the side."
- Australia have won four of their last five Cricket World Cup meetings with New Zealand (L1); the Black Caps only victory in that span coming on home soil (28th February 2015 in Auckland).
- New Zealand have won 13 of their last 15 completed Cricket World Cup matches (L2), one of those losses coming against Australia in the 2015 final and the other in their most recent such fixture against Pakistan.
- Australia have only tasted defeat once in their last 12 men's ODIs at Lord’s (W10, T1); winning on their previous two visits by the same margin (64 runs).
- New Zealand have won all three of their completed men's ODIs at Lord's, however they have not played at the venue since 31st May 2013 when Martin Guptill hit an unbeaten century (103*) in a victory over England.
- Mitchell Starc (Australia) and Trent Boult (New Zealand) were the leading wicket takers at the 2015 Cricket World Cup; Starc has taken a competition-high 19 wickets at the 2019 edition so far, while Boult has nine.