New Zealand wins toss, bats in World Cup final v Australia
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum won the toss and elected to bat first against Australia in a Cricket World Cup final featuring the co-hosts at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
New Zealand is playing a World Cup final for the first time, while Australia has won four of the previous six championship matches it has contested at cricket’s marquee limited-overs tournament.
Both teams are unchanged from their semifinal wins, with Josh Hazlewood holding his spot in Australia’s pace attack ahead of Pat Cummins on the basis of his strong form in the knockout stages.
Australia captain Michael Clarke will be playing his 245th and last one-day international, having announced his retirement from the ODI format on Saturday. He needs 93 to reach 8,000 ODI career runs.
New Zealand veteran Daniel Vettori will play the last match of his 18-year international career at the MCG.
Unbeaten New Zealand is playing away from home for the first time in the tournament, and is coming off a next-to-last-ball semifinal win over South Africa in Auckland. It was New Zealand’s first win in seven attempts at the World Cup semifinal stage.
New Zealand won the toss only three previous times in the tournament, in the pool stage against Associate countries Scotland and Afghanistan and in the quarterfinal against West Indies.
Six of the New Zealanders in the starting XI were on the team which beat Australia by six wickets at the MCG in 2009, the last match between the teams at the venue.
Every team that has batted first at the MCG this World Cup has gone on to score in excess of 300 runs, while the highest ever successful run chase at the ground was 297-4 by Australia against England in 2010/11.
Australia: David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve 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, Matt Henry, Tim Southee, Trent Boult.
Umpires: Kumar Dharmasena, Sri Lanka, and Richard Kettleborough, England.
Third umpire: Marais Erasmus, South Africa. Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle, Sri Lanka.