So we are down to the two host teams to battle it out for the trophy on the grounds of one of them. Despite the advantage that playing in Melbourne gives the Australians, I am sticking with my original pick of New Zealand to win the game. They just strike me as a well-balanced, complete team. Both teams have good batting depth, explosive hitters, and excellent fast bowlers. They both field well. NZ has the edge in a wily and experienced spinner in Daniel Vettori. If they can keep their cool the way the did in that exciting semi-final game against South Africa, they should be able to defeat Australia. It is clear from my time here in Auckland that there is nothing that New Zealanders would like better than defeating their arch rivals in the final.
The other semi-final game between Australia and India started out well, with Australia seemingly headed for a formidable total before India regrouped well and restricted them to a still challenging 323. I must say that India’s strategy while batting baffled me. After starting well but then losing some wickets, their captain Dhoni seemed to display no sense of urgency even as the required run rate went well over ten. While one has to credit the Australian bowling as well, the impression I got was not of a player trying to score and being frustrated but of someone content to get singles and twos when they were clearly inadequate. He seemed to be content to cruise along. Even when he was run out, he did not try to dive for the crease but just pulled up though it would have been close. Weird.
A friend of mine was at the game and he said that India’s supporters were so noisy that it seemed like it was India that had the home field advantage. He said there were four drummers right behind them making such a racket that his wife decided to move to another seat and he had to request that they tone it down. But in the last hour or so, it all became quiet as India went down quietly to defeat.
Unfortunately, I will only be able to see the part of the first innings of the final before I leave for the airport to return to Cleveland. While I may be able to see more of the game at the terminal, I will be on the plane when it ends, except in the unlikely event of the team batting first experiencing a major collapse.
So I will leave this as an open thread for the cricket enthusiasts to discuss the final game before, during, and after it takes place, and join in the discussion after its ends when I am back in Cleveland.