We have to be at our best to beat New Zealand: Clarke

Sydney: Australia captain Michael Clarke on Thursday said that even though they have outclassed India in the semi-final, their task isn’t over yet as they have to be at their best to beat a spirited New Zealand side in the World Cup final on Sunday.

“I think we have to play our best cricket. There’s no doubt about it. I said that before this game that we have to play our best to beat very good opposition,” Clarke said at the post match press conference on Thursday.

“New Zealand has been the form team of the competition, certainly deserve to be in the final, and yeah, we’re going to have to, like I say, be at our best to beat them.”

Opting to bat against India, Australia posted a massive score of 328/7 in 50 overs with Steven Smith scoring a quickfire 93-ball 105. He was well supported by opener Aaron Finch (81).

Chasing a big total, India were off to a good start. But after losing opener Shikhar Dhawan (45), wickets started to fall. The defending champions were eventually bowled out for 233, losing the game by 95 runs.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 65 later in the innings didn’t help much.

Clarke praised Smith’s performance saying he has shown class and is getting better with every game.

“I think he’s made the most of his opportunity. I can’t speak highly enough for the way he’s batting at the moment. He’s showing his class,” he said.

“He’s still training extremely hard, still getting there early, still doing the work even though he’s batting so well, and I can’t say I’m surprised he’s getting the results he’s getting.”

The skipper said Mitchell Johnson played a crucial part on Thursday scoring a quickfire 27 off 9 balls and claiming two crucial Indian wickets of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

“Two crucial wickets, two big prize wickets, aren’t they? I’ve always said Mitchell making runs gives him confidence with the ball. I think tonight was a good example of that. He’s a class performer,” Clarke said.

The 33-year-old also appreciated the fielding effort of the team. Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith were electric on the field on Thursday running Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja out.

“I’ve said that my whole career. Fielding is massive in any form of the game. At the moment our fielding is exceptional. We dropped a couple of catches tonight,” he said.

With just two days to go for the big final on Sunday, Clarke said the Aussies will be physically confident, fit and ready to take on the Kiwis.

“I’ll be fine. Obviously we haven’t got much time, and recovery will be our goal and our focus over the next two days. I think mentally the team is ready for this final,” he said.

The right-hand batsman also praised Kohli for his consistent performance throughout the Australian summer, but also pointed out that India have got more than one really good player.

“I think India have got more than one really good player. Kohli is obviously a big player, extremely successful One Day record. There’s no doubt about it. His record is phenomenal, and it takes a big player to get him out,” Clarke concluded.