Aussies storm to final
Australia overcame a few nervous patches to romp into the World Cup final with an emphatic 95-run victory over defending champs India, who were buoyed by vociferous support at the SCG. The hosts overcame the early loss of David Warner (12) via a brilliant 182-run partnership between Aaron Finch (81) and man-of-the-match Steve Smith (105).
But India’s bowling attack struck back, taking four wickets for 51 runs and pegging back the run-rate. Mitchell Johnson’s blistering 27 from just nine balls proved vital, however, lifting Australia to 7/328.
Shikhar Dhawan (45) and Rohit Sharma got India’s arduous chase off to a superb start, but their opening stand came to an end on 76 in the 13th over and the next three wickets fell for just 32. Captain MS Dhoni top-scored with 65 off as many balls, but his cohorts fell around him at regular intervals. Previously unbeaten India was skittled in the 47th over.
Steve Smith was in everything, hitting a masterful century – his first of the World Cup – off just 89 balls to lay the platform for Australia’s big total. In the field, he heard a faint nick apparently no one else did that saw the crucial wicket of Ajinkya Rahane fall. Smith then produced a brilliant direct-hit run-out to get rid of Ravindra Jadeja.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) March 26, 2015
The biggest trans-Tasman showdown ever?
The sporting rivalry between Australia and New Zealand is about as ferocious as it gets. The nations have clashed in multiple Rugby World Cup semi-finals – but never in a final – and a string of Rugby League World Cup finals. But they’ve never met beyond a Cricket World Cup quarter-final, and this Sunday’s clash is set to supersede anything we’ve ever seen in trans-Tasman sporting warfare. Social media is blowing up and memes are coming out left, right and centre. There’s not many Aussies that don’t have at least a few Kiwis mates, and vice versa, but friendship is set to go out the window for a day.
Australian batting great Matthew Hayden lit the fuse for the final even before his countrymen had won their semi-final, declaring the Black Caps were Australia’s preferred opponents because they’ve been dominating on New Zealand’s small grounds and would struggle on the big Melbourne Cricket Ground. It sparked a hilarious #MCGsobig Twitter movement well worth checking out. Australia’s perceived superiority complex and New Zealand’s trademark chip-on-the-shoulder will be amplified over the next few days as banter reaches fever pitch. Perhaps Hayden should’ve checked the facts, though, as the Kiwis have won three of the last five ODIs against the Aussies at the hallowed venue.
#MCGsobig it’s proper name is actually yo’ Mamma’s Cricket Ground.
— Chris (@Lukeurmyson) March 26, 2015
— Ian Witham (@amuletofyendor) March 26, 2015
Stud of the day
Steve Smith is arguably Australia’s most important player in the final. A cool-headed batsman, a dynamo in the field and a genuine leader, Smith will be a trump card for the hosts at the MCG.
It’s the big one, the match six weeks of action and 48 lead-up contests boils down to, and it’s a dream final between the co-hosts and bitter rivals. Buckle up from 2.30pm (AEDT) for what shapes as the greatest final in World Cup history.