All will be revealed when Australia, the five-time champion, takes on England, the tournament host, at Edgbaston on Thursday. If the Australians win, the Black Caps get the chance to avenge a seven-wicket hammering handed out by their trans-Tasman rivals in Melbourne four years ago. New Zealand didn't really do itself justice in its first appearance in the title match, bowled out for 183 and then seeing Australia knock off those runs in 33.1 overs.
The Kiwis lost to both England and Australia (at Lord's) in the group stage of the 2019 edition, but won't be fearing either of them in the final after taking out highly fancied India in Manchester. In Kane Williamson, New Zealand has one of the great batsmen of this or any era. He is averaging a tournament-high 91.33 at this World Cup and the way he judged the pace of the team's innings of 239-8 in testing circumstances and on a tricky pitch on Tuesday underlined his knowledge and class under pressure.
New Zealand's bowling attack is also dangerous — just ask Virat Kohli and the rest of India's top order. Hitting the right length and getting movement in the air and off the deck, Boult and strike partner Matt Henry reduced India to 5-3 and then 24-4.
India's batsmen didn't know what had hit them. Boult described it as "mayhem." "At the halfway stage, we sort of wanted 240, 250 and we knew we would be competitive if we got that because the surface played the way it did," Williamson said.
"But then to have to start with the ball that we had was an outstanding way to try and kick things off, and try and get into a position of strength. I thought the way the bowlers and the fielders operated throughout on a big field, on a surface which they had to adapt differently again, was a great effort."
Kohli was out to a ball from Boult that nipped in and struck him on the pad for an lbw, becoming the most high-profile of the left-armer's 17 victims this tournament. "That was a perfect spell of fast bowling with the new ball," said Kohli, who believes New Zealand will be particularly hard to beat in the final in bowler-friendly conditions.
"If conditions are good to bat, then they will have to bat really well," Kohli added. "If conditions are bowler-friendly and they put enough runs on the board, they become a dangerous side as you saw in this game."
After a semifinal that Boult said had the feel of a test because it was played out over two days, New Zealand's players can now put their feet up and take in Australia-England. "We'll be watching with interest and just more excited about being on the stage," Boult said.
"Lord's, Cricket World Cup final. It doesn't get bigger than that in my opinion. Whoever it is we're definitely looking forward to it."
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