Sports

Fearless Black Caps

Kiwis, playing in their first World Cup final, vow to stick to their attacking style

New Zealand are sticking with the same team, and the same fearless approach, for today's blockbuster World Cup final against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said the Black Caps will use the same line-up that beat South Africa in the semi-finals and the same bold tactics that have served them so well during the tournament.

Showing no signs of nerves or apprehension ahead of the biggest match in New Zealand cricket history, McCullum said yesterday his players had been told to go out and attack the Australians from the start.

"We need to play like that, that's how we're going to beat teams on regular occasions," McCullum said. "We're not afraid of losing.

"For us, we think about what we can achieve. That's not always going to work and there are going to be times when we come out on the wrong side of it.

"But that gives us our greatest chance of success against big teams on a regular basis.

"So we'll continue to play like that and develop a sense of fearlessness... and a real 'can do' attitude."

INTIMIDATING

New Zealand's intimidating approach to the game has paid off during the World Cup.

With the dashing McCullum laying the foundations at the top of the order, the Black Caps have been piling on the runs with the bat and skittling opposing lineups with their fast bowlers.

For the second time at this World Cup, Australia's Mitchell Starc and New Zealand's Trent Boult will be asked to deliver a killer blow that could determine their team's fate.

The two lethal left-arm fast bowlers will go head-to head as the tournament's leading wicket-takers who lit up the group clash between the co-hosts exactly a month ago.

Boult grabbed 5-27 to bundle Australia out for 151 in Auckland before Starc hit back with 6-28.

McCullum said it would be hard to forget both 25-year-olds' performances.

"Mitchell and Boult put outstanding spells in that game and both were able to get the ball to swing quite substantially," said McCullum.

"They posed a lot of questions with wicket-taking deliveries."

The Black Caps have shown they can handle pressure, beating Australia in a tight match during the group stage and one of the tournament's big favourites South Africa in the semi-finals.

Now, McCullum says, his team have to make sure they do not freeze in the final.

CONFIDENT

"I'm confident we'll play well," he said. "That doesn't guarantee us anything, it doesn't mean that Australia won't beat us, but I'm very confident we'll turn up and display our skills.

"I guess this is the ultimate game for us to be able to play in, so with that I'm sure some guys will be nervous.

"Putting our skills against the best in their backyard certainly whets the appetite and creates the greatest stage we can ask for."

McCullum conceded that four-time champions Australia were the favourites on home soil, but said his teammates were aware this was the chance of a lifetime.

"It's pretty amazing, the ride we've been on, and I've said that time and time again that it's been the greatest time of our lives," he added.

"We dreamed right from the start and to now give ourselves a 50-50 chance in the final is an amazing achievement.

"The brand of cricket that we've played has really touched a lot of people and endeared ourselves to a lot of people who follow this game.

"There is no challenge which is insurmountable." - Reuters.