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Kiwis, Aussies wary ahead of Cricket World Cup pool match

February 24, 2015

Cricket World Cup favorites Australia and New Zealand are circling each other warily ahead of their pool game at Eden Park on Saturday, as a lack of familiarity breeds respect.

The Australasian neighbors haven’t met in a one-day international since the last World Cup — they were due to play each other at the 2013 Champions Trophy, but that match was washed out.

While they won’t be lacking intelligence on each other — both use analysts to minutely explore the strengths and weaknesses of opposing players, and most play with and against each other in Twenty20 leagues — facing each other as national teams will be a new experience.

Australia opener Aaron Finch called it “strange” that teams so geographically close have played each other so rarely.

“I didn’t really know until I saw it yesterday (that it had been so long since Australia and New Zealand last played),” Finch said. “It’s just one of those things isn’t it?

“With so much cricket being played around the world, you do tend to play everywhere else except at home sometimes.”

Finch has played against New Zealand only once, in a T20 warm-up match, but he doubted either side would be disadvantaged by the lack of recent contact.

“You watch so much on TV,” he said. “We were all watching the game the other day (between New Zealand and England).

“You do see a lot of cricket, and you do see a lot of footage, and you have access to almost too much footage sometimes, it can wear you down a little bit.”

New Zealand allrounder Corey Anderson has played 10 tests, 29 one-dayers, 15 T20s, none of which were against Australia. But he echoed Finch’s view that there are no secrets between the teams.

“You can play these guys without being in the international arena and see what they’re like,” said Anderson who plays with and against Australians in the Indian Premier League. “They’re not going to be foreign.

“They’re our neighbors from across the ditch. They don’t have guys who come out of the back of the hand, anything like that. We just have to go about our work and stick by our blueprint.”

One New Zealand player who knows the Australians well is wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi who, born in New Zealand, first played international cricket for Australia before returning and qualifying to play for New Zealand. He roomed with Finch at the Australian cricket academy, was a teammate of Australia allrounder Mitch Marsh, and regularly faced Mitchell Johnson in the nets.

“The only one in their squad I haven’t really played with or against is Pat Cummins,” Ronchi told local media. “I’ve played with or against pretty much everyone in the Aussie team and some of them I’ve roomed with at the academy and things like that. I know them well, and to be playing against them - it’s a funny feeling, but the whole situation is pretty cool.”

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