An awesome aussie show

Pacers lead way as Clarke's men drub New Zealand by seven wickets ; Starc is man of the tournament

An awesome aussie show

Grant Elliott experienced the fickle nature of sport in the harshest way possible. Just four nights ago, his unbeaten 84 had earned New Zealand their most memorable win to date in ODIs. On Sunday, he struck 83 but it didn’t help his team pose even a minor threat to the rampaging Australians.  

The Melbourne Cricket Ground was pregnant with great possibilities but perhaps none of the 93,013 spectators present at the imposing arena, a record registered gathering for a cricket match ever, was prepared for the lopsided nature of the contest, hardly befitting a World Cup final. 

Electing to bat first on what remained a good batting strip, New Zealand were undone by Australia’s pace as the hosts fired their rivals out for a pitiable 183 in 45 overs. Barring Elliott’s knock and his 100-plus association with Ross Taylor (40), there was hardly anything in New Zealand’s innings as Mitchell Starc (2/20), Mitchell Johnson (3/30) and man of the match James Faulkner (3/36) ran riot in a fine display of fast bowling.        

Australia faced little difficulty in their chase despite losing Aaron Finch early. With Michael Clarke scoring a sparkling 74 (72b, 10x4, 1x6), Australia replied with 186/3 in 33.1 overs for an emphatic seven-wicket win to become world champions for the fifth time. The retiring Clarke wasn’t there to see Australia to victory in their home party but the half-century in his last ODI outing was the perfect icing on the cake. Steven Smith (56 n.o., 71b, 3x4) deservedly brought the winnings runs. Australia thus became only the second team after India to win the Cup at home.    

New Zealand’s decision to bat first couldn’t be faulted but what transpired, however, in the middle for the first three hours of the match was beyond anybody’s comprehension let alone the Kiwi fans who had gathered in big numbers to cheer their team. The firepower in Australia’s bowling was too much to handle for the New Zealand batsmen.

There could have been some nerves given the magnitude of the occasion but the Aussie attack didn’t make it any easier for their trans-Tasman rivals with fast, incisive bowling that was relentless and intense. Man of the series Starc delivered a deadly blow to the Kiwis with the fourth ball of the innings that typified their performance on the day.

Brendon McCullum stuck to his aggressive intent and after a two heave-and-miss routine, saw his off-stump being pegged by Starc’s full, inswinging delivery. The rattle of the timber might have sounded like an early death knell for the New Zealanders. The early loss forced Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson embrace caution. The mandatory 10 power play overs yielded just 31 runs while New Zealand’s average run-rate in the first 10 overs in the tournament has been over seven per over. 

It’s not like the batsmen were letting go off any scoring opportunities though. Starc and Josh Hazlewood hardly gave away anything in their respective first spells. The lengths were consistently full and there was hardly any width to chance your arm. The discipline they showed was impeccable.

Johnson made batsmen’s lives even more difficult with his pace and aggression and was rewarded when Williamson was deceived into playing early and gave a return catch. Guptill was left embarrassed when he allowed a seemingly innocuous delivery from Glenn Maxwell knock back his off-stump. At 39/3 in the middle of the 13th over, New Zealand were in big trouble but Elliott and Taylor combined to prevent them from slipping into deeper abyss.

Elliott was smooth even though he survived two lbw shouts – once by using player referral and then when Australia used it against him – while Taylor had to grind it out as has been the case through this tournament. The two added 111 runs off 137 balls and New Zealand were nicely poised at 150 for three after 35 overs. With two set batsmen at the crease at the start of the batting power play, they were expected to post a 250-plus total but Faulkner left them in total disarray with two wickets off three balls in the 35th over.

Taylor edged the first ball to Brad Haddin whose catch was confirmed through replays while Corey Anderson was yorked. Starc returned in the very next over to account for Luke Ronchi for a duck and in the space of eight balls and one run New Zealand had lost three key wickets. Not many teams recover from such collapse and definitely not against this Australian attack. Exactly 10 overs after Taylor’s dismissal, New Zealand were all out with only Elliott’s innings giving their total a semblance of respectability.

Score board

NEW ZEALAND

Guptill b Maxwell     15
(34b, 1x4, 1x6)
McCullum b Starc     0
(3b)
Williamson c & b Johnson     12
(33b, 1x4)
Taylor c Haddin b Faulkner     40
(72b, 4x4)
Elliott c Haddin b Faulkner     83
(82b, 7x4, 1x6)
Anderson b Faulkner     0
(2b)
Ronchi c Clarke b Starc     0
(4b)
Vettori b Johnson     9
(21b, 1x4)
Southee (run out)     11
(11b, 1x6)
Henry c Starc b Johnson     0
(7b)
Boult (not out)     0
(1b)
Extras (LB-7, W-6)     13
Total (all out, 45 overs)     183
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (McCullum), 2-33 (Guptill), 3-39 (Williamson), 4-150 (Taylor), 5-150 (Anderson), 6-151 (Ronchi), 7-167 (Vettori), 8-171 (Elliott), 9-182 (Henry).
Bowling: Starc 8-0-20-2 (w-1), Hazlewood 8-2-30-0, Johnson 9-0-30-3 (w-2), Maxwell 7-0-37-1 (w-1), Faulkner 9-1-36-3, Watson 4-0-23-0 (w-2).

AUSTRALIA

Warner c Elliott b Henry     45
(46b, 7x4)
Finch c & b Boult     0
(5b)
Smith (not out)     56
(71b, 3x4)
Clarke b Henry     74
(72b, 10x4, 1x6)
Watson (not out)     2
(5b)
Extras (LB-3, W-6)     9
Total (for 3 wkts, 33.1 overs)     186
Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Finch), 2-63 (Warner), 3-175 (Clarke).
Bowling: Southee 8-0-65-0 (w-3), Boult 10-0-40-1, Daniel Vettori 5-0-25-0, Mark Henry 9.1-0-46-2 (w-2), Corey Anderson 1-0-7-0 (w-1).

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