Mitchell Starc helps gives Aussies an edge
AUSTRALIA and New Zealand are on a collision course for the World Cup final at the MCG next Sunday, and former Aussie quick Michael Kasprowicz is backing his country to exact revenge in the game that counts.
The Black Caps won a thriller against Australia by one wicket in their pool match at Eden Park on February 28, left-arm quick Mitchell Starc giving the hosts some very nervous moments while chasing just 152 for victory, taking 6-28.
Starc is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 16, and is expected to give Pakistan's batsmen plenty of trouble when the sides meet in the third quarter-final at Adelaide Oval on Friday. New Zealand will take on the West Indies in Wellington the next day.
The other quarter-finals will see Sri Lanka play South Africa at the SCG today, and Bangladesh take on India at the MCG tomorrow.
The winner of the Sri Lanka v South Africa match will meet either New Zealand or the West Indies in a semi-final at Eden Park, while if Australia beats Pakistan it will meet the winner of India v Bangladesh at the SCG.
That could set up a dream final between Australia and the Black Caps, and if that script goes to plan, Kasprowicz, who took 67 wickets in 43 ODIs for his country, said Starc loomed as the key.
Regularly bowling at around the 150kmh mark, the 24-year-old has an economy rate of just 3.3.
"He (Starc) has always had potential and that's the best part of it - he's converting that potential into performance," he told APN.
"He's great. I like what he's doing - I like his attitude.
"Coming into big games like this at a World Cup - this is the stage to show what you can do, and leave a legacy."
Today's quarter-final will give South Africa a chance to silence its many doubters.
The team has been widely branded as "chokers" for having never won a World Cup, despite the strength of its teams since being readmitted to world cricket in time for the 1992 tournament. Since then, the Proteas have lost three World Cup semi-finals.
They will have an enormous task on their hands trying to contain a Sri Lankan team featuring the in-form Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakarra, who has scored a world-record four consecutive hundreds in his past four ODIs.
South Africa's captain AB de Villiers told reporters the past was irrelevant.
"I haven't thought about that very often. All I can say is we're not going to choke. We're just going to play a good game of cricket and come out on top," he said.
- Today: South Africa v Sri Lanka at the SCG
- Tomorrow: India v Bangladesh at the MCG
- Friday: Australia v Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval
- Saturday: New Zealand v West Indies at Eden Park