Dream final for co-hosts Australia and New Zealand, but who will triumph?
When 100,024 cricket fans fill the MCG tomorrow, it will be the climax of a revolution. This World Cup has broken all kinds of records - higher team scores, higher individual scores and more sixes. The par score for a 50-over game has increased from 270 to around 340 as 50-over games are played at a 20-over tempo. Even a score of 380 would be no guarantee of victory tomorrow.
So in a World Cup dominated by the bat, who were the stars when Australia played New Zealand in Auckland a month ago today? David Warner? Martin Guptill? It was actually a toss-up between Tim Southee, with figures of 5 for 27, and Mitchell Starc, who took 6 for 28.
In their qualifying clash at Eden Park, Australia were skittled out for 151 and New Zealand limped home with one wicket to spare. So as well a battle between the two hosts, this final will be a battle between bat and ball, between bowlers and batsmen to see who dominates who.
However, there hasn't been a first innings score below 300 at Melbourne in this World Cup, so that would suggest a high-scoring game is on the cards. Both teams have an explosive opening partnership in Warner and Aaron Finch opposing Guptill and Brendon McCullum, but New Zealand don't have a middle order batsman with Glenn Maxwell's ability to score a hundred in the last 20 overs.
On the bowling front, Trent Boult and Southee match Starc and Mitchell Johnson, and New Zealand have the edge in the spin bowler department with the wily Daniel Vettori. However, Australia's change bowlers, James Faulkner and Shane Watson, have more experience than Corey Anderson and Matt Henry.
Therefore, it would seem that though Australia’s best players aren't any better than New Zealand's best players, they do have eight or nine potential match winners, compared to six or seven on the New Zealand team. Finals are nervy affairs and mistakes are made, Australia are better placed to recover from mistakes or bad starts with their strength in depth.
So, if I had to pick someone to win the World Cup tomorrow, it would be Australia, but I say that without any great conviction.