Mathew Sinclair | 11:53pm gmt 03 Oct 2009
The Black Caps have given themselves every opportunity to go on and do the unthinkable and take out this year's Champions Trophy. Ravaged with unforeseen injuries and the constant changing of players coming in and going out they have banded together and asked what Daniel Vettori has been wanting for - consistency.
It's a funny game this cricket when only a few weeks ago the Black Caps were totally out played by Sri Lanka and now they have a great chance to beat the world's best Australia. No one really gave the Black Caps any chance of doing what they have done so far considering their recent lack of form and injuries. Amazing what can be done and achieved when a few people stand up and are accounted for notably Vettori and Grant Elliott. That's all it seems to take, guys getting the runs and taking the wickets.
Every game has been an under dog status for this team and will be no different going into this final. The Australians smarting from Ashes defeat will be ripe and ready on their recent diet of one day cricket since losing that prized trophy. They have something to prove, the Black Caps don't. What it will take is a total team performance to beat the Australians and not just individuals. The Australian batting line up is packed with match winners and the recent form of Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson is a real threat early on for the Black Cap bowlers.
You couldn't get a better stage to go out there and perform against the best with a world wide audience. Players dream of playing in finals and this one will be no different especially against a team we have of recent years performed up and down against in the one day format. This time it will be different in that it is in a foreign country with unfamiliar settings and a big emphasis on the wicket and selections. If the Black Caps can expose the Australian middle order early on, our chances of restricting such a big score is a reality for our batsmen to chase. Experience in these sorts of situations becomes crucial and whilst the Black Caps lack this depth what they don't lack is self belief.
This belief has basically got them into this final amongst some very good batting and bowling performances in tight situations. With only a day to regroup and to come up with some plans the task ahead won't be easy. The best laid plans I have found have been those that have been very simple and keeping to the basics. This is what I believe the Black Caps have done very well; they have bowled in good areas and have laid very good foundations with the bat. Vettori should bat at six as he offers so much - firstly he is left-handed and secondly his batting form warrants that position.
I can't see the team changing in selections and am really looking forward to both teams approach in this final. The team that can handle and deliver sustained pressure will come out on top in this final. Senior players in both teams need to step up and create a platform for the others to ease into the game. That one half chance in the field being put down can mean the difference in wining and losing in a final. It all comes down to the top three inches and half chances. Both teams have gone into this final with some very good team form, now it will come down to individual form.
Watch for some very explosive hitting from the likes of Brendon McCullum and Watson and of course the battle of the speedsters in Shane Bond and Brett Lee. It looks to be a very even match on paper but these finals appearances really separate the men from the boys. Would that famous old cliche live up to its name in this game? Cricket - 'Anything Can Happen'.
I am not going to predict a winner, all I want to see is a great game and the best team winning on the day. It should be great viewing and even more reason why one day cricket should stick around.
Hear from me after the final.
Yours in the spirit of the game
M S Sinclair