Australia have the advantage of playing on the same Lord’s pitch where they beat England in the last match.

 

Australia are the only team confirmed for the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup. Perennial contenders New Zealand are a win away from joining them in the final four, having suffered their first loss of the tournament this week to perennial upstarts Pakistan in Birmingham.

On Saturday at Lord’s, third-placed New Zealand will meet Australia in the first ODI between the two in over two years, with Kane Williamson‘s Blackcaps searching for a way past the defending champions. They need one win to confirm their place in the semi-finals; after the Lord’s match versus Australia await hosts England in Durham on July 3.

Should New Zealand lose both remaining matches, they will stay on 11 points. They would thus need England to lose to India, leaving the hosts on 10 points. If England beat India and New Zealand, they will go forward into the semi-finals with 12 points. If Pakistan beat Afghanistan and Bangladesh, they would end on 11 points. Then head-to-head will come into play, and Pakistan would go ahead having beaten New Zealand in the league phase.

It is, really, New Zealand’s tournament to blow from here.

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Williamson’s team have not played a match at Lord’s, and after moving southwards from the cooler climes of the midlands, will have to tackle a red-hot Australia in warm London. Three of their wins in the World Cup have been by the narrowest of margins, and some will consider them lucky to have got one point off India from a washout at Trent Bridge. As Pakistan’s pace bowlers proved, get Williamson and Ross Taylor and victory can be achieved.

Australia have picked up steam in ominous manner, winning four matches in a row – by margins such as 41 runs, 87 runs, 48 runs and 64 runs – and for an example of how clinical they are, look at their previous match, against England at Lord’s.

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Defending a total of 285, Australia smashed England on the backs of terrific bowling from Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff, the pace pair who snared nine wickets. Don’t expect Australia to take their foot off the gas, or to give their fringe players a chance. Australia’s mongrel has kicked in with bat and ball, and they’re looking at winning everything in their way.