Cricket World Cup: Kiwi skipper to lead the way in final rout

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For the second time in the history of the Cricket World Cup, and in successive years, the two sides sharing hosting duties have reached the final.

After New Zealand’s pulse-racing penultimate-ball six booked their place over South Africa in Auckland, Australia dismantled India to ensure an Antipodean showdown will engulf Melbourne.

This isn’t the first time that these two have crossed swords in the tournament, as the pair played out a thriller at Eden Park during the group phase, with the Black Caps coming out on top by one wicket in pursuit of 151.

Such a low scorer can’t be expected at the MCG, where each of the previous four games in the tournament has seen the side batting first score over 300. Those sides all went on to record a win, which makes winning the toss pivotal to lifting the trophy.

Pre coin-flip, Ladbrokes make Australia favourites for victory at 4/9, with the Kiwis rated as a 7/4 chance. Those prices could flip drastically should Brendon McCullum call correctly at the meeting of the skippers.

That wouldn’t be a complete surprise, considering the unrelenting skipper has done such a superb job of setting the tone for his side.

New Zealand innings have got off to fantastic starts thanks to McCullum’s calculated aggression, which has brought him four half centuries during the tournament and another score of 42. The slowest of those five knocks was his first, coming at a measly strike rate of 132.65.

His campaign can be considered a strong one even though he is yet to register a century among the myriad of triple-figure scores at the event. It would be typical of the greatest captain currently in the game to amend that slight in the biggest game of all.

McCullum is 7/2 to be New Zealand’s top scorer, 10/1 to be named man of the match and 13/8 to record a fifth 50.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.