Niall O’Brien: Aussies can do England a favour by knocking off Black Caps

Australia deepened English gloom with a solid win at Lords, but now the hosts could do with them pulling off another against New Zealand

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Against England, it looked like a big toss to lose for Australia. I was at Lords from 7am that morning, and there was drizzle about, dark clouds, a bit of a green tinge to the pitch, it was overcast and quite muggy. Lovely bowling conditions basically, so it seemed a huge toss to win for Eoin Morgan.

For the first five or six overs England bowled pretty well and were a bit unlucky. They beat the bat, and had a couple of nicks. On another day, the Aussies could’ve been two or three down. After that, though, England let Finch and Warner off the hook.

They’d soaked up the pressure early and capitalised on it after the first powerplay.

The fact that, at one stage, it looked like Australia were going to go on and get upward of 330 or thereabouts, means that England did well to keep them under 290. It was a good effort from the bowlers in the end, and, at half-time, England would’ve felt pretty happy to chase 285 on what was actually quite a decent pitch.

Australia’s David Warner plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between India and Australia at The Oval in London on June 9, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

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Oz bowling wizards

But Australia knew they’d the runs on the board, and were playing against a side under pressure. They’d also a very strong bowling line-up. Jason Behrendorff’s used to the pressure situations, he’s played in the IPL, and it was good captaincy from Aaron Finch to give him the new ball.

Sometimes he’s the first change, but it didn’t take him long to get James Vince out. Picking up five wickets was wonderful for him. Behrendorff and Starc are very, very formidable with the new ball.

Pat Cummins is a good bowler, and Marcus Stoinis is doing a well as the all-rounder. He gives the team balance. And their bowling attack is strengthened further by Nathan Lyon being back in the side. He’s a wonderful spin bowler and Australia’s best option there. Glenn Maxwell is in the team as well to pitch in if they need some overs.

Australia got their bowling attack right and England had no answers. If they can keep that eleven fit they’ll be going all the way to final.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 26: Kane Williamson of New Zealand plays a shot during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between New Zealand and Pakistan at Edgbaston on June 26, 2019 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

Kiwi batters still flapping

New Zealand won their first three games and only shipped their first defeat to Pakistan in their last game. A lot of people said they weren’t tested early, but they were three tough games. They made it over the line against South Africa and then they were run very close by Carlos Brathwaite’s century for the West Indies, so those were testing matches.

They did have few easier contests too, but they got the points on the board and have played well. You can only beat the teams put in front of you.

They’ve been heavily reliant on Kane Williamson’s batting though. Colin Munro at the top of the order hasn’t really done much. He’s a bit of a dasher and T20 specialist so he needs to get a few runs.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 05: Ross Taylor of New Zealand celebrates his half century during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Bangladesh and New Zealand at The Oval on June 05, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

And a couple of their bigger names have not fired yet either. Martin Guptill, Ross Taylor, these haven’t put up that big score yet that New Zealand will need if they going to go to the semi-finals and possibly all the way and win the tournament.

They need bigger contributions from others.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ross Taylor, going back to his old ground from MCC Young Cricketers’ days, put in a big performance against Australia.

But it’s a very tough game to call. One more win will secure the semi-finals spot for the Black Caps, but I just think Australia are playing so well at the moment, while their neighbours are struggling for batting form in particular.

Can the captain Williamson keep pulling out these centuries? Or do Australia have enough in the bank? I think Aaron Finch’s side have enough to edge it. It’ll take something special from Taylor or Guptill to get New Zealand close, but even if they fire, Australia should are playing well enough to post another two points on the board.

England will certainly be hoping they do.

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