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Clarke's Aussies prepared for their part in World Cup final

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2015 | 3:00 AM
Michael Clarke

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP):

Win or lose, Michael Clarke and his Australian teammates are probably going to be portrayed as the bad guys after the Cricket World Cup final against New Zealand.

The New Zealanders have been the story of the World Cup, winning all eight games on the way to the final, including a one-wicket win over four-time champions Australia in the pool stage.

The Black Caps are peaking for the tournament which the countries are co-hosting - and providing the vibrant, enterprising cricket that has grabbed most of the attention.

Six semi-finals

Top-ranked Australia, appearing in their seventh World Cup final and playing at home on the Melbourne Cricket Ground, are the logical favourites. But it's likely the supporters of South Africa, India, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, the Caribbean and most neutrals will be cheering for Brendon McCullum's New Zealanders, who finally reached a championship match after losing at the semi-final stage six times.

For most Australians, a loss to New Zealand would be considered cause for recriminations of some kind.

There's an element of Big Brother-Little Brother in the relationship between the neighbouring countries, with Australia usually assuming the dominant role unless it involves rugby union.

Sentiment isn't a factor for Clarke, who was stung by the one-wicket loss in Auckland and is determined to avoid another one.

"That was the turning point in this tournament for the Australian team. Losing to New Zealand gave us that kick up the backside," the Australian captain, speaking after a 95-run semi-final win over 2011 champions India, said of the one-wicket loss in Auckland. "We knew we got a good look at a very good team playing at the top of their game and I think our attitude from that day has been exceptional.

"The boys have got out of bed every single day to try and become better and I think you've seen that in our results."

Sutherland said a final between the co-hosts was fitting, coming shortly before the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli

landing where Australian and New Zealand troops forged the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) tradition in World War I.

"It's all come together and I think there's some extra-special significance, given it's only a few weeks before the two countries commemorate the centenary of ANZAC," he said. "It's one of the really special ties between our two countries."