Once again, Australia enter a tournament final as firm favourites against New Zealand. We've heard of other teams going past them in rankings and statistics, but when it comes to big tournaments, Australia are still the team to beat.
The Australia we saw on Friday was a far cry from
the tired, fatigued outfit we saw against the West Indies in the opening game. In the semifinal against England, the batting of Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson was really exceptional, and proved two things.
First, Ponting has not lost his hunger and ambition to save his best knocks for the biggest arena; second, Shane Watson is remarkably well-suited for the opening slot, and is a quality player when fit. This knock would have greatly boosted his confidence.
Perhaps the West Indies game was a wake-up call, but even against Pakistan, the game went too close to the wire for Australia's liking. However, they did enough to make the semifinal and now have some serious momentum going into the final.
The other finalist has also been pretty impressive through the tournament. I have always been impressed by how well the New Zealand team performs as a unit. They are a tight, well-knit team that plans well and strategises meticulously for every game. This was evident yesterday in the way they first unsettled Pakistan with their sharp running between the wickets, and later in their use of batting powerplay. Daniel Vettori has been a good leader.