Lehmann hoping for a hat-trick win at World Cup

IF ANYONE knows how to win a World Cup, Australian coach Darren Lehmann does.

Not only did the man nicknamed "Boof" score the winning runs for Australia in the 1999 final against Pakistan at Lord's, he also took the catch that won the 2003 final against India at the Wanderers ground in Johannesburg.

Now the 45-year-old has the chance to join Geoff Marsh in an exclusive club. The West Australian is the only person to have won a World Cup as a player and coach - he was part of Australia's victorious team in India in 1987, and led the side to victory in 1999.

While Australia will go into the tournament as warm favourite to claim a fifth title from 11 editions, Lehmann knows better than to get ahead of himself.

His sometimes larrikin manner - he almost missed the 2003 tournament after being suspended for a racist dressing room outburst - masks a deep thinker, superb tactician and someone who leaves no stone unturned in his quest for success.

Apart from injuries to skipper Michael Clarke and all-rounders Shane Watson and James Faulkner, Australia's preparation has been timed to the minute ahead of the opening match against England at the MCG.

And Lehmann said, drawing a line through his two successful World Cups as a player - the signs were good.

"We have to take it game by game," he said.

"We did that in the past in 1999 and 2003 when I was a player. You have to break it down into small clumps and we've done that well so far.

"We've had a really good past 12 months where out of 23 games we've won 19 of them."

It certainly isn't a one-horse race, however, with South Africa and New Zealand having the talent to go all the way.

Proteas batsmen Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers occupy the top two positions on ICC ODI batting rankings, while fast bowlers Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander can cause headaches for any side.

The Black Caps have also been in excellent form, with key batsmen Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson scoring recent hundreds.

Pacemen Trent Boult and Tim Southee, and evergreen left-arm orthodox spinner Daniel Vettori have also been bowling well, the team's efforts certainly catching Lehmann's attention.

"They are very good aren't they?" he said.

"We've watched them very closely."

The trans-Tasman rivals will clash at Auckland's Eden Park on Saturday, February 28, in a match that could decide who finishes top in Pool A.

Australia has the firepower to back up the view batsmen will dominate this World Cup.

Opener David Warner looks set for an outstanding tournament, and it would be no surprise to see the left-hander break former South African opener Gary Kirsten's World Cup record score of 188no, set against the United Arab Emirates in 1996.

Warner has a talented opening partner in Aaron Finch, while middle-order batsmen Steve Smith, Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell are capable of taking the game away from any team.

Throw in a quality fast bowling line-up headed by left-armers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc, not to mention the likely return of Clarke and Faulkner, and it's hard not to think the 2015 World Cup is Australia's to lose.



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