Gilchrist expects first-choice New Zealand line-up
Adam Gilchrist believes there is no danger of New Zealand easing up against Australia in their final Super Eights match on Friday. Both sides have already qualified for the semi-finals and the teams are on track to avoid each other in the last four.
Sri Lanka rested Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan from Monday's seven-wicket defeat but Gilchrist did not expect New Zealand to give Shane Bond a match off. "I wouldn't suspect so," he said. "I'm sure all their players will be keen to play. We go out to win every game we play and I think New Zealand are of the same mindset."
The teams last clashed when New Zealand won the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy 3-0 but Gilchrist, who did not play in the series, said the circumstances were different now. "They'll take great confidence from beating us and they played some really impressive cricket in that series," he said. "It's a good chance for us to shape up again as we may meet each other again in this competition down the track."
Australia are undefeated in the tournament and have a two-point advantage and a far superior net run-rate to the second-placed New Zealand. Gilchrist has been impressed by New Zealand's improvement since they finished third in the CB Series in February. Their rise has been helped by Scott Styris, who has recovered from a back injury and scored 435 runs at 108.75 in the tournament.
"They've got their game well and truly down pat," Gilchrist said. "They continue to be well led, they've got a fully fit Scott Styris and his results are showing what an integral part of their success he is. They've got that winning mentality."
Australia might have gone 26 games without a loss at the World Cup, but Gilchrist said there was still room for improvement. "We had Sri Lanka on the back foot at 3 for 27 and then we allowed them almost back in the driving seat," he said. "I'm not for a moment saying our bowling is a worry because we've bowled out every opposition bar Bangladesh in what was pretty much a Twenty20 game. We're thrilled with our bowlers but that's an example of the type of thing we can keep improving on."
Gilchrist has been inspired by the performances of his opening partner Matthew Hayden, who has collected 477 runs at 79.50. Hayden was not part of the side a year ago and secured his place with 117 against New Zealand in Perth in January.
"When he came back in, a lot of people would have been looking at it like it's make-or-break time," Gilchrist said. "He identified that and I think he's said that was a bit of a breakthrough innings for him in regards to allowing him more time to express himself. He's taken it with both hands and inspired everyone to keep improving."
In the win over Sri Lanka Hayden and Gilchrist equalled the record of 25 half-century stands in ODIs set by David Boon and Geoff Marsh. Gilchrist called it a "wonderful partnership".
"I guess walking out there together at the start of the order you have the opportunity to set up a strong foundation for your team," he said. "Fortunately we've been doing that well in this World Cup and obviously a number of times over the years so it's really pleasing. Matty is in a good place at the moment, he's hitting the ball so well it's allowing a me a bit more time to try to occupy the crease and settle in."