Tim Southee Brendon McCullum New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
Can Brendon McCullum inspire New Zealand one more time, in the biggest games of them all?Reuters

After 48 matches and nearly one-and-a-half months of non-stop cricket, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 comes down to the two hosts – Australia and New Zealand.

The two were among the favourites going into the World Cup, and having played some outstanding cricket in the group stages and the knockouts, they find themselves deservedly in the final at the MCG, playing in front of 90,000 fans for the ultimate prize in limited overs cricket.

Both teams have similar characteristics in that they like to play aggressive cricket, but while New Zealand like to do the talking with the bat and ball, Australia don't mind a bit of talking via the mouth either.

New Zealand's brand of relentlessly attacking cricket has been a breath of fresh air at this World Cup and if they can hold their own and not be overawed by the occasion in their first ever CWC final, they should give Australia a really good contest.

They haven't shown any signs of being overawed, even if they have had the privilege of playing at home for the entire ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, with their group stage match against Australia also happening in front of their home fans, who have easily been one of the best in World Cup history.

It was those fans that drove New Zealand all the way into the final, and how they cope with not having the entire crowd behind them will have a major impact.

Australia expected to be playing against a partisan crowd in their semifinal against India, but their supporters came out in droves as well to even that particular battle, and when it comes to the final on Sunday at the MCG, support for the green and gold will reign supreme.

New Zealand have gone into attack mode right from ball one, catching some teams out as well with their extra intensity, and having beaten Australia in probably the best match of the group stages, they will know they are capable of doing it again.

On paper, Australia have the better batting depth, while New Zealand have a better all-round bowling attack with a marquee spinner in Daniel Vettori. Australia would have struggled more had India not lost their top three in quick succession, which in turn allowed Michael Clarke to get 20 eventually easy overs out of Glenn Maxwell, Shane Watson and James Faulkner, who was allowed to come back and make an impact with the ball after being carted around in his first two overs.

New Zealand need to take advantage of that fourth and fifth bowler fragility in the Australia ranks, but they will also know in Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, the home team have a pace attack to rival all attacks.

The Black Caps also have a pretty mean opening pace bowling lineup in Trent Boult, who has been absolutely outstanding, and Tim Southee, and if the latter can find the kind of form which made England look like a pub team, the Australia batsmen could be in for another horror show with the willow, much like the last time they played their Trans-Tasman rivals.

At the end of the day, though, it all comes down to which team holds their nerve a little better, and Australia certainly have the upper hand when it comes to experience, having been in the final of five of the last six World Cups (including this one), while winning three of the last four.

Schedule: Final: 29 March: Australia vs New Zealand (2.30 pm local time, 9 am IST, 3.30 am GMT, 11.30 pm ET) at MCG, Melbourne.

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