Legendary New Zealand paceman Richard Hadlee believes Australia have a slight advantage heading into Saturday’s World Cup showdown between the co-hosts because of their pack of power-hitters.
This weekend’s clash in Auckland, which some believe could be a dress rehearsal for the March 29 final, pits four-times World Cup champions Australia against an in-form New Zealand and should decide who takes pole position in Pool A.
Hadlee, who still holds the record for most Test wickets by a New Zealand bowler with 431, believes Australia’s power hitters can take advantage of the exceptionally short straight boundaries at both ends of Eden Park.
“They’ve got probably six power hitters in their side and with the short boundaries, it could be the contest of the power hitters – the team that can hit more sixes and fours,” Hadlee, 63, told reporters on Wednesday.
“I think Australia are favourites, but the way New Zealand are playing, we will given them a good run and we are good enough to get across the line,” added the former all-rounder, who retired in 1990.
Saturday’s match promises a fascinating duel between the Australian pair of Aaron Finch and David Warner and in-form New Zealand pacemen Tim Southee and Trent Boult.
Southee recorded New Zealand’s best one-day figures of seven for 33 in his team’s eight-wicket win over England in Wellington on Friday.
New Zealand can also call upon skipper Brendon McCullum, who smashed the World Cup’s fastest fifty, off just 18 balls, en-route to a 25-ball 77 against England, as well as hard-hitting all-rounder Corey Anderson.
“In Southee and Boult, New Zealand have their best-ever new-ball combination,” said Hadlee, New Zealand’s spearhead for much of his career.
Hadlee added: “McCullum is also at his dashing best. The way he has captained the side has been inspirational.
“The way he fields and leads his side in the field, and his batting ability as well — if he can put all three things together, the other players will follow that.”
Besides the top position in the pool, both teams will also be vying for the Chappell-Hadlee one-day trophy, named after the great Australian and New Zealand cricket families.
And Hadlee said he wanted to see the trophy, held by Australia since 2011, regained by New Zealand.
“We want it back. Hopefully on Saturday, it might just lift the ante a little bit.”