Australia will try to keep the winning momentum: Aaron Finch

Australia captain Aaron Finch said the champions had toned down their World Cup act as they prepare to face New Zealand, the team they beat in the 2015 final, at Lord’s on Saturday.

The match will revive memories of a Melbourne final in which wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, now a member of Australia’s coaching staff, was criticised for ‘”sledging” or verbally abusing New Zealand batsmen in his final one-day international.

But since then Australia have been through the trauma of a ball-tampering scandal that saw former captain Steve Smith and opener David Warner handed 12-month bans. ALSO READ: Dented New Zealand chase semi-final passage against resurgent Australia at Lord’s

There has been a noticeable lack of flare-ups between players on opposing sides at this World Cup, although there have been issues of dissent at umpires’ decisions.

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“I think it has been a great spirit out on the field, regardless of results,” Finch said at Lord’s on Friday.

“I know the last one was quite an aggressive World Cup on the field, mainly from us. We were quite aggressive in our approach and how we went about things. ALSO READ: Cricket World Cup semi-final scenarios: New Zealand a win away from semi-final berth

“This one has been absolutely brilliant, and I think that’s been really pleasing as well.”

In-form opening batsman Finch is expecting a strong test from New Zealand in a match where a win for Kane Williamson’s men would see them into the last four.

“I think the great thing with New Zealand is that they fight and scrap every single game, regardless of whether it’s a World Cup final or it’s a club game,” said Finch.

“They are a great fielding side. They put pressure on you. They have got world-class players.”

– ‘Winning momentum’ –
With Australia already assured of a semi-final place, they could rest fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins from Saturday’s day/night match.

“I know that they (Starc and Cummins) have got no interest whatsoever in being rested or anything like that,” said Finch.

“We want to try to keep our winning momentum,” he added. “You don’t want to tempt fate. I mean, we have got a week until our next game (against South Africa).

“We feel as though that week will be a really good opportunity for the bowlers to really freshen up and de-loading them three or four days after this match to manage them through the next part of the tournament, and obviously with a huge summer coming up here with the Ashes.”

Warner’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s third child this weekend, which will certainly give him something else to think about other than the World Cup.

But Finch said he wanted all his players to enjoy their time away from cricket.

“It’s important that when you get days off, you really get away from the game and freshen up. For me, before my wife got here, it was about getting out and playing golf.

“Now it’s more like shopping but yeah, mini-golf the other day, that’s the closest I’ve got to the course since she’s been here. Sorry, darling.

“I’ll cop for that later,” a smiling Finch added to laughter from reporters.

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