The 2015 finalists meet for a Trans-Tasman battle at Lord's with Australia secure in the semi-finals but New Zealand needing to make sure they don't get dragged into a last-minute race to book their place in the knockouts. The hope, for the neutral at least, will be that this match brings the tension of the group game between the sides in Auckland four years ago, which ended with that famous Kane Williamson six, rather than the Melbourne final which produced a one-sided conclusion to the tournament.
If you had said just a few months ago that Australia would be the first side assured of progression few would have believed you, but such has been the turnaround in their fortunes that they have done it with two matches to spare after toppling England in impressive style. Some questions remain about the middle order, but that is being well compensated for by the prolific partnership between David Warner and Aaron Finch and a pace attack that is starting to gel.
Though unbeaten before their match against Pakistan, New Zealand had been pushed hard during previous contests so it was not entirely surprising that they came unstuck. In contrast to Australia, their opening partnership is in a bit of a rut which is leaving Williamson and Ross Taylor exposed early. However, the performances of Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme with the bat showed that there is some depth in the middle order.
New Zealand are still very well placed to progress but there is a certain set of results that would see them miss out if they don't gain another point in their final two matches. They would dearly like to avoid a nervous final week of qualifying.
(last five completed matches)
New Zealand LWWWW
In the spotlight
It has been an interesting World Cup for Glenn Maxwell. He has hit the ball hard, and scored very quickly - he is one of only two batsmen with a strike-rate over 200 and the other, Liam Plunkett, has only batted twice - but he hasn't always been around quite long enough to bring off the perfect gameplan. The England match was a case in point where he soon found the boundary but then got a bit too cute trying to guide Mark Wood to third man. At times his bowling has been as important to Australia's cause as his batting but you still get the sense that an opposition attack will face the full force of Maxwell before this tournament is over.
If Gary Stead's comments are an indication it appears the loyalty in selection, which is a key plank of the New Zealand set-up, will extend Colin Munro's stay at the top of the order although his diminishing returns are an increasing problem. The lean output from the opening pair has not yet derailed things for New Zealand, but as was shown against Pakistan situations won't always be retrieved by Williamson and Taylor. Against the pace of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and, probably, Jason Behrendorff, Munro's technique will be given another working over.
Australia got their selection spot on against England for the conditions at Lord's and there would seem little reason to change unless there are specific match-ups they want to target.
Australia (probable) 1 David Warner, 2 Aaron Finch (capt), 3 Usman Khawaja, 4 Steven Smith, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Alex Carey (wk), 8 Pat Cummins, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Lyon, 11 Jason Behrendorff
New Zealand have fielded the same XI throughout the tournament although Mitchell Santner admitted they should have brought in Ish Sodhi against Pakistan. Alongside Sodhi and Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee is also in reserve and could squeeze out Matt Henry who has taken just one wicket in his last four matches.
New Zealand (probable) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Tom Latham (wk), 6 Jimmy Neehsam, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Matt Henry/Tim Southee, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Trent Boult
Pitch and conditions
The strip that was used for the England-Australia game on Tuesday is set to be reused on Saturday. The weather is expected to be fine for the duration of the match.
Should Australia consider promoting Alex Carey? The fluidity of their middle order has been a talking point throughout the tournament and there certainly seems a case for him to go above the struggling Marcus Stoinis. Stoinis has 50% of dot balls in his innings during the last 20 overs while Carey is down at 25%. Carey's tournament strike-rate of 116.10 is second behind Maxwell among Australia's main batsmen.
The case for Ish Sodhi: Australia have been pretty comfortable against left-arm spin, with the second-best average of 83 against that style of bowling, so Santner won't hold many fears. However, against legspin they have lost 38 wickets, the most for any team, which certainly works in Sodhi's favour. How he gets in is the question, though, because New Zealand like the security of Santner's batting at No. 8. Sodhi has played one ODI against Australia, in which he was Player of the Match having removed Smith and Maxwell.
Stats and Trivia
Australia have lost more wickets from overs 31-50 in the tournament (37) than any other team. New Zealand and India have lost the fewest (15)
The Warner-Finch combo has been prolific but they average 22.30 against New Zealand which is their lowest against any ODI opposition.
Williamson needs 32 runs to reach 6000 in ODIs. He is also well on track to beat Martin Crowe's 1992 record for the most runs by a New Zealand captain in a World Cup.
"He's so damaging if you bowl wide, and he's so good off his pads that your length has to be really, really disciplined. You have to try and dry him up. It's like all great players; they don't have a huge amount of weaknesses, and on pitches that don't bounce a huge amount it's tougher to get that nick.
Aaron Finch on the challenge of bowling to Kane Williamson
"Yeah, like you say, the atmospheres have varied a lot. Pakistan was very loud. Bangladesh, very loud. India, we didn't even play and they were very loud (chuckles). You know, I guess coming tomorrow, usually you come to Lord's and there's sort of a quiet murmur when you play England, but I guess playing Australia it might be a little bit different when you have Kiwis and Australians filling out the seats. It will be a really good atmosphere, whatever it is, but I know for a fact that both teams are just looking forward to getting into the cricket."
Kane Williamson on Lord's atmosphere