Melbourne: Australian bowlers put up an impressive performance to give themselves a strong chance of winning the fifth cricket World Cup as New Zealand were bowled out for a paltry score of 183 in 45 overs in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Sunday.
After New Zealand were reduced to 39/3 in the 13th over, Grant Elliot (83) and Ross Taylor (40) defied the odds with a 111-run stand for the fourth wicket. But four-time World Cup champions Australia got the ascendancy eventually by bowling out the maiden finalists for a bare 183.
Admirably supported by inspiring fielding, Australia’s seamers Mitchell Starc (2-20), Mitchell Johnson (3-30), James Faulkner (3-36) and spinner Glenn Maxwell (1-37) were all over the New Zealanders, who lost the final seven wickets for just 33 runs.
After winning the toss, New Zealand had a nightmarish start as they lost skipper Brendon McCullum (0) in the first over. The right-handed batsman had his stumps shattered by left-arm pacer Starc.
With this wicket, Australia completely took control of the match. With seamers starc, Josh Hazzlewood and Johnson operating with probing line and length, New Zealand batsmen Martin Guptill (15) and Kane Williamson (12) just managed to resist the threats.
The home bowlers persisted with their disciplined show and didn’t allow the visiting batsmen to score freely. As a result of this, New Zealand reached 31/2 in first 10 overs.
After Australia brought in spinner Maxwell, New zealand batsmen tried to cash in on the opportunity. But their ploy backfired as Guptill misread the length and was bowled by Maxwell to leave the team in a spot of bother at 33/2 in the 12th over.
However, Guptill (547 runs) took top spot as the highest run-scorer in the tournament, pushing Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara (541) to second place. Johnson dealt another blow to New Zealand as vice-captain Williamson offered a return catch to the left-arm fast bowler.
After 15 overs, New Zealand reeled at 47/3 and in the next five overs Elliot and Taylor scored just 19 runs without losing any wickets. Elliot, who scored an unbeaten 84 to down South Africa in the semi-finals, registered his ninth half-century in One-Day International cricket. He led the recovery charge with a nicely paced knock.
The 36-year-old got good support from experienced Taylor as the duo collected 55 runs in the next 10 overs to take New Zealand to 121/3 in 30 overs. Mixing ones and twos with occasional boundaries, New Zealand recovered from a woeful start following the partnership between Elliot and Taylor.
In the first ball of the 36th over, left-armer pacer Faulkner broke the 111-run stand, forcing right-hander Taylor to edge behind. Two balls later, Faulkner rattled new batsman Corey Anderson’s stumps to deal two quick blows.
Starc removed Luke Ronchi before the wicketkeeper-batsman could open his account. Michael Clarke took a sharp catch at slip to reduce New Zealand to 151/6.
Elliot’s defining innings of 83 ended as he edged a slow Faulkner delivery to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. After his fall, New Zealand tail-enders failed to trouble the score-keepers. (IANS)