Starc must blast his way past the little fort Williamson will build

Mitchell Starc has 19 wickets from seven games so far Getty Images

The last time Australia played New Zealand, Mitchell Starc didn't take a wicket.

This was back in the 2017 Champions Trophy, a game that had New Zealand as arguably the favourites going in - not something that happens for them often, let alone in an ICC event. And they were bossing it when the game was washed out.

In that game, Josh Hazlewood took six wickets. Australian fans might remember him as someone who used to play ODIs for his country.

The two times they met before in ICC events were both at the 2015 World Cup, and they are very memorable for different reasons. Australia beat Brendon McCullum's brand wow New Zealand in the final, and New Zealand snuck home in one of the most crazy coco bananas games in World Cup history a month earlier.

In those three games, Kane Williamson had a hundred and a 45 that included a six to win the game with one wicket in hand. Starc had a six-wicket haul and the dismissal of McCullum that almost exploded the MCG.

These two teams have won a lot at this World Cup: it's in no small part because of Starc's 19 wickets and Williamson's 414 runs. This tournament, Starc is a stop-gap for the Australian bowling attack; if the game is not going well, he finds himself with ball in hand. Williamson has scored more than double what the next highest scorer has for New Zealand, his strike rate of 77 is low, but he has played on some tough wickets and been the only person capable of staying out there.

Against New Zealand, Starc has played eight ODIs, averaging 19 with an economy of 4.7. Williamson averages 42 against Australia. The chances of a straight shootout are unlikely, but Williamson will have to overcome a slightly flawed New Zealand batting line-up, and if he gets set, you'd expect him to be facing one (or more) Starc killer mid-innings spells.

There is simply no other way to beat Australia, as India proved. If you give Starc wickets, either at the top like England, or later on like West Indies, he creates havoc, and the game is over. Williamson has to hold him up.

If McCullum was New Zealand's superhero who would run into a burning building to find your cat's favourite toy, Williamson is the guy who puts in all the smoke alarms, makes sure the house is fire retardant and that everyone knows where to meet in case of emergency. There is no better player to negate Starc than Williamson; he's one of the few batsmen in this tournament who saw the Ben Stokes yorker and thought, that's a good ball, before continuing to clean his gear with a toothbrush. Williamson has only been dismissed once off pace in the entire tournament, that's in 356 balls. In his career, he averages over 50 from seam in ODIs. Starc has only bowled 58 balls to Williamson in ODIs, and he's never taken his wicket.

But Starc has Williamson three times in Tests, where he averages 22 against him. In this tournament, while the world has gone short, Starc has gone full and has 16 of his 19 wickets from length or fuller. Most of his wickets have been out of the Powerplay, where he's taken set batsmen, often quality players. That description fits Williamson pretty well; he doesn't blast away; he uses his superior batsmanship to build a little fort out in the middle, and he stays there as support for the other batsmen, or spine for the entire innings.

Unless something mad happens, there will be a time when Australia needs Starc - or Pat Cummins - to get a set Williamson.

New Zealand are not the favourites this time, they may have a lot of points, but many of their wins have been close ugly games, and their losses similar. Australia just crushed the No. 1 ODI team in the world, dethroning them in the process. They will expect to win, and for Starc to take wickets.