As I start writing this article, Steven Smith has hit the winning runs in the final at Melbourne, to see Australia through to their 5th World Cup title. The Aussies are now the new World Champions, after beating New Zealand comprehensively by 7 wickets today.
Skipper Michael Clarke, who was playing his last ODI game for Australia today, forged a 112-run stand for the third wicket with Steven Smith, to see his team home. Earlier, the Aussie pacers had bundled out New Zealand for just 183 in 45 overs.
New Zealand win toss, bat first, lose early wickets
All throughout this tournament, the Kiwis had relied heavily on their skipper Brendon McCullum’s belligerent batting up front. And sadly, that was nowhere to be seen today. Mitchell Starc knocked over McCullum’s woodwork on the fifth ball of the day and brought New Zealand’s hopes of a fiery start crashing down!
Some careful batting by Guptill and Williamson yielded hardly anything, as Australia kept tightening the noose on the Kiwi batsmen. At 39/3 in the 13th over, it seemed that the New Zealand innings were in for a quick wrap. However, Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot restored parity to the innings and went on to build a solid partnership .
Taylor and Elliot build a platform, lower middle order collapses
A 111 run stand for the 4th wicket, between Taylor and Elliot, resuscitated the Kiwi innings. But, all hopes of posting a big total in this all important match were lost once Taylor was dismissed followed by a batting collapse, triggered by James Faukner.
The Kiwis abjectly surrendered from 150/3 in 35 overs to 183 all out in 45 overs. Even Grant Elliot’s fighting knock of 83 could not go on any further, and the absence of support from the other end meant that the Kiwis were out for a below par score.
Finch departs early in chase, Warner blazes away
Trent Boult got rid of Aaron Finch in the second over and brought in some excitement early in the chase. However, the enthusiasm did not last long as David Warner decided to take the attack to the New Zealand bowlers. Warner’s mini assault, with Steven Smith being a mere spectator at the other end, took Australia past the 50 run mark in the 10th over. Even after Warner’s dismissal for a 46 ball 45, the Kiwis could not manage to get a grip on the game.
Michael Clarke and Steven Smith make it 5 for Australia!
It was expected to be an emotional farewell for Michael Clarke from ODI cricket today! And the Australian captain fittingly embellished it with a knock of 74, to take his team to victory. Clarke took his time early on and let Smith take the odd chances, when he was new to the crease. However, neither Trent Boult nor Matt Henry nor Tim Southee could have any effect whatsoever on the phlegmatic right-hander once he got his eye in! Even though Steven Smith was initially the more aggressive partner, it was Michael Clarke who ended up taking the lead later on. The Australians were left with the mere formality of scoring 9 more runs when Clarke was dismissed by Henry in the 32nd over. Smith completed the formalities as Australia coasted to a confident win in the final.
Man of the Match – James Faulkner
Man of the Series – Mitchell Starc
Brief Scores – Australia (186/3 in 33.1 overs, Michael Clarke 74, Matt Henry 2/46) beat New Zealand (183 all out in 45 overs, Grant Elliot 83, Mitchell Johnson 3/30) by 7 wickets.