Black caps will struggle at the MCG, says Matthew Hayden
AUSTRALIAN great Matthew Hayden says the Black Caps will struggle with the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Sunday's Cricket World Cup final.
New Zealand will face either India or Australia in the Black Caps' first ever final appearance.
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In a column for news.com.au, Hayden says the size of the MCG means New Zealand will need to change their hitting approach.
"There were a number of times last night where the New Zealand batsmen appeared to be hitting big balls - but they'd be getting caught three quarters of the way to the fence at the MCG," Hayden wrote.
"They're going to have to change the way they hit the ball.
"Let's be honest, the size of Eden Park is ridiculous. It shouldn't be a cricket ground. If you can half throw it from the long off boundary to the opposite end it's too small."
New Zealand have a number of big hitters in their squad especially at the top of the order in Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill. McCullum has hit 17 sixes in the tournament and Guptill 15, 11 of which came at Westpac Stadium in his knock of 237 not out in the quarter-final win over the West Indies.
Guptill has hit two of the biggest recorded sixes in the tournament. But the Black Caps have yet to play in Australia during the tournament.
New Zealand last played at the MCG in 2009 - a six wicket win over Australia. No sixes were hit that day by either team. In the previous encounter two years earlier - New Zealand cleared the boundary three times in a five wicket defeat to the hosts.
The MCG is averaging just under five sixes a match during the tournament - a record 30 were struck at the Wellington quarter-final and 16 on Tuesday night at Eden Park.
The Black Caps aren't just a batting team however with the longer boundaries possibly favouring the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Daniel Vettori with ball in hand, while they are also one of the best fielding teams in the tournament.
Hayden, who won the World Cup with Australia in 2003 and 2007, also said if Australia make the final they'd be much happier to face New Zealand than South Africa. New Zealand defeated Australia by one wicket in pool play.
"I just think New Zealand winning is a huge advantage for Australia on several different levels.
"New Zealand has a good pace bowling unit but I don't think they're as good as Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
"From a batting point of view, South Africa has AB de Villiers who is a real athlete and used to playing on big grounds, Hashim Amla who is a master of using the pace of the ball and grew up in Durban where the conditions are very Australian-like and Faf du Plessis who is coming into his own as well."
Hayden predicts Australia will win today's second semifinal in Sydney.