Cricket World Cup 2019: New Zealand take on Australia with semi-final spot on the line

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The Aussies are in roaring form.

The memories of the 2015 World Cup final defeat will still be fresh for New Zealand as they prepare to lock horns with Australia at the iconic Lord’s cricket ground on Saturday.

The two Trans-Tasman rivals are separated by just the one point after playing seven games apiece with leaders Australia the only side to have qualified for the 2019 ICC World Cup semi-final so far.

The Kiwis, meanwhile, will be able to confirm their place as well in the last four should they emerge victorious against at Lord’s on Saturday.

AUSSIES IN ROARING FORM

It is no wonder Australia have done so well in the tournament with the defending champions firing on all fronts so far. The two leading run-scorers in the tournament – David Warner (500) and Aaron Finch (496) – are Aussies and so is the leading wicket-taker Mitchell Starc who has claimed 19 scalps.

A loss against India has been the only aberration in Australia’s magnificent campaign and they come into Saturday’s clash on the back of a comprehensive victory over arch-rivals and tournament favourites England at the same venue.

That ‘favourites’ tag is starting to shift towards the Aussies now and they have peaked at just the right time to make a strong claim for a sixth World Cup crown.

With 15 wins in their last 16 ODIs, it is hard to see the Australia juggernaut stopping anytime soon and they will not want to let up on the intensity as the business end of the tournament approaches.

KIWIS LOOK TO BOUNCE BACK 

Like Australia, the Kiwis have also lost just the one match in the tournament so far and it came in their latest encounter against Pakistan at Edgbaston. With their campaign no longer an unbeaten one, Kane Williamson and his men will want to ensure that the Pakistan defeat is just a small blot on what has otherwise been an impressive campaign.

However, they are not out of the woods just yet and the potential of their campaign going to bust still exists. They still need one more win to ensure a last four spot and that will have to come either against Australia on Saturday or against hosts England in their last league fixture.

They have remarkably named the same playing XI in all seven games so far but they might need a rethink on a couple of spots, particularly that of opener Colin Munro who has been woefully out of form. The Black Caps will also be considering whether to introduce Ish Sodhi into the playing XI after their lack of a second spinner hurt them considerably against Pakistan.

The Kiwis have two tricky fixtures to navigate.

The Kiwis have two tricky fixtures to navigate.

PAST RECORD SKEWED IN AUSTRALIA’S FAVOUR

The 2015 World Cup final defeat is not the only one New Zealand have suffered at the hands of the Aussies in the tournament’s history. They have ended up on the losing side in seven of the 10 times they have clashed in the World Cup so far with their sole victory coming in the 1999 edition in England.

In fact, of the 20 ODIs played between the two sides on neutral venues, Australia have come out on top on as many as 19 occasions.

LIKELY XIs

Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc, Jason Behrendorff.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson.

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