MELBOURNE, March 29: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and elected to bat first in the cricket World Cup final against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
The MCG’s drop-in pitch is expected to be batsman-friendly and McCullum will hope his side can put 300 on the board given no team has ever chased down such a total in one-day international cricket at the ground.
Both teams are unchanged from the lineups that won their semi-final matches. Australia thrashed India to reach the title-decider, while New Zealand edged South Africa in a cliff-hanger to reach their maiden final. “I’m sure both teams will play great cricket and it’s just a shame one team will have to lose really,” McCullum said in a pitchside interview. “We’re gonna bat first, the wicket looks outstanding and we’ll give ourselves to get the runs on the board.
“We’ve got the same team the guys were outstanding against a very good South Africa team so we’ll give them the opportunity in the final as well.
“We’ll know we’ll play well today, it doesn’t guarantee success, but we know we’ll be tough to beat.” Australia captain Michael Clarke, who will retire from one-day internationals after the final, said he would also have preferred his team to bat first on a glorious autumn’s day in Melbourne.
“But the wicket looks fantastic so I don’t think it matters much,” he said. “I’ve told the guys to continue to play good, consistent cricket. “We haven’t done too much over the last couple of days. Just recovery to make sure everyone is as fresh as possible.
“I said the other day, mentally we’re ready to go so the last few days physically we wanted to get ourselves right and we’re looking forward to today. “The Australian public have been so supportive … hopefully we can play some really good, entertaining cricket for them today.”
Australia, champions in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007, are bidding for their fifth World Cup trophy.
Australia – Aaron Finch, David Warner, Steven Smith, Michael Clarke (captain), Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood New Zealand – Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum (captain), Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Daniel Vettori, Tim Southee, Matt Henry, Trent Boult.