Australia overpowered New Zealand by seven wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to clinch their fifth World Cup trophy in a peerless performance. As Australia bask in the glory of yet another World Cup win, we look back at five defining moments in the match that had a massive impact on the final.
McCullum’s first-over dismissal: After winning the toss and deciding to bat first, New Zealand needed another rollicking start to the innings in the final from their inspirational skipper Brendon McCullum. It is a luxury they had enjoyed for a majority of the tournament. Alas, in the final, it wasn’t to be. Three balls was all Mitchell Starc needed to send back McCullum, and the Kiwi skipper couldn’t connect even once. Starc almost beat him outside the off-stump first, and then through the legs. Off the third ball, he cleaned up McCullum with a fast straight one which moved slightly.
Kiwis crumbling to 39 for 3: After losing McCullum, it was imperative for New Zealand to see out the threat of the pacers. Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson batted slowly, but ensured the Kiwis did not lose any wickets for the next 10 overs. However, after having done the hard work, Guptill played all around a delivery from Glenn Maxwell while Williamson chipped a simple return catch to Mitchell Johnson. Guptill made 15 from 34 balls while Williamson consumed 33 for his 12. It was all falling apart for New Zealand.
Disastrous powerplay: Having lost three early wickets, New Zealand recovered well courtesy Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot. However, off the very first delivery of the powerplay, James Faulkner sent back Taylor for 40. Just a couple of balls later, he cleaned up Corey Anderson for a duck, and Luke Ronchi was soon dismissed by Mitchell Starc, also for a duck. 150 for 3 had soon become 151 for 6, and eventually 183 all out as Elliot played a lone hand with a magnificent 83.
David Warner’s early blitz: Defending only 184, New Zealand needed early wickets. Trent Boult sent back Aaron Finch early, but to put Australia under real pressure, the Kiwis needed to dismiss Warner early as well. That did not happen as the left-hander easily negotiated Tim Southee and Boult. Warner smashed his way to 45 from 46 with the aid of seven fours. By the time he was sent back by Matt Henry, Australia had raced to 63 for 2 in the 13th over, and the match was well in their grasp.
Michael Clarke’s captain’s knock: Even though Australia were easing home, they needed someone to bat for a decent period of time to achieve the target. The in-form Steven Smith held one end with an unbeaten half-century, but it was skipper Clarke’s fifty in his final game that stood out. He looked completely at ease during his stay out in the middle, and his 74 from 72 balls, featuring 10 fours and a six marked a pleasing exit for Clarke.
--By A Cricket Analyst