Yes, Brendon McCullum’s men can win, but as to whether they will, that is absolutely in the balance with the odds favouring Australia – but only just.
That is not some Kiwi self-deprecation on my part, but rather an acknowledgement that Michael Clarke’s side has a slight advantage because they know the conditions better than the Black Caps.
That stands to reason, of course. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is a home venue for them, after all, and although a drop-in pitch nullifies that advantage to a degree, it means the Australians will still have a command of things as subtle as the effect of the wind or the angles of the playing arena.
That might not seem like much but in a match-up where small one per-centers could be the difference between winning and losing, it could make all the difference.
Any merchants of doom out there will also point out that only seven of the current squad – Brendon McCullum, Grant Elliott, Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor and Daniel Vettori – have played a One-Day International there before and that, together with the size of the occasion and a partisan crowd, could have the potential to produce some stage fright among the players.
But, from my perspective, I believe that is unlikely.
I think the way the team has gone about this campaign, right back to a visit to Melbourneat the start of the summer to ensure some degree of familiarity with the arena, shows a great internal belief and confidence and I do not believe that will alter in this match.
Instead, rather than being daunted or overawed, I expect this New Zealand side to be excited at the prospect of creating history and to rise to the occasion because, as they have shown numerous times not only in this tournament but also in the past 18 months or so, the bigger the challenge, the more determined they have become.