When the World Cups come around, you can always count on Australia to be at their brilliant best. The 2019 edition has been no different with Aaron Finch’s side securing their seventh win of the tournament, defeating Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand by 86 runs, at Lord’s, London on Saturday.
Kiwis start with a bang
New Zealand’s regret of not playing a second specialist spinner in their loss against Pakistan saw Ish Sodhi (0/35) come into the line-up in place of pacer Matt Henry. This prompted captain Kane Williamson to give the new ball to Colin de Grandhomme (0/29) alongside Trent Boult (4/51). Up against Aaron Finch and David Warner, both of whom came into the game in prolific form, the Kiwi duo started with two maidens.
The pressure soon told as Boult bowled a top delivery to get Finch trapped leg-before-wicket (LBW) for just 8. Lockie Ferguson (2/49), who has been the pick of the New Zealand pacers at the World Cup, bowled a sublime bouncer off his first delivery to get rid of Warner (16) soon after. The openers, who had been the rock of Australia’s batting, were back in the pavilion before the end of the first Powerplay.
A few teams have used a leg-slip or leg-gully early against Steve Smith (5) to counter his tendency to go across the stumps. New Zealand did it here, and they were duly rewarded. Martin Guptill, who had dropped two catches already, held on to an awe-inspiring one-handed catch at leg-gully to dismiss Smith and Australia were reeling at 46/3.
The Blackcaps didn’t let the advantage slip as James Neesham (2/28) took back-to-back wickets to reduce the defending World Cup winners to 92/5. The second of those scalps was especially memorable as Neesham, like Guptill before him, took a stunning one-handed catch. And this one was off his own bowling.
The Aussie fightback
Dropped by Guptill early in his innings, it was on Usman Khawaja to rebuild the innings along with Alex Carey. While Khawaja was building an innings with caution, Carey showed his intentions right away, scoring a gorgeous boundary off just the second delivery he faced.
The two complemented each other superbly, putting on a 107-run partnership. Carey was the more fluent of the duo, smashing 11 boundaries en route to a 72-ball 71 and would later be named the Player of the Match. Khawaja, on the other hand, stuck around until the 50th over before falling 12 short of a century.
Boult creates New Zealand history
Khawaja’s wicket was the start of a bit of history for Boult and New Zealand. The left-arm pacer followed the yorker to bowl Khawaja with two more yorkers off the next two deliveries, both inducing wickets. As a result, Boult became the first New Zealander to take a hat-trick in World Cup history. On the back of this sensational final over, Australia were restricted to 243/9 in their 50 overs.
A “timid” batting display
In reply, the New Zealand got off to a circumspect start, managing only 31 runs for the loss of one wicket. Coming off his maiden ODI fifer, Jason Behrendorff (2/31) was once again in fine form with the new ball. After dismissing Henry Nicholls (8), the left-arm pacer trapped Martin Guptill LBW for 20.
The hopes of the Blackcaps were on the shoulders of Williamson and Ross Taylor and the duo put on a half-century partnership stand. With 147 runs still needed, Williamson dabbed a Mitchell Starc off-cutter to the wicket-keeper. It was uncharacteristic of the Kiwi skipper who had just scored his 15th successive 40+ ODI score in England.
With the required run-rate on the rise, Taylor was the next batsman to perish – the right-hander skied a Pat Cummins (1/14) delivery and Carey completed a catch for which it seemed like he had to wait an eternity. From thereon, it was just a procession.
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, commentating on the game, described the Kiwi performance as “timid”. And it was tough to disagree with him after the batting collapse that occurred following Williamson’s dismissal. They would lose the last eight wickets for just 60 runs.
Starc was the star of the show once again, picking his second five-wicket haul at this tournament. The 2015 Player of the World Cup is on top of the bowling charts this time too, with 24 wickets to his name.
While Australia are top with 14 points and have guaranteed themselves a spot in the semi-finals, New Zealand are still likely to go through to the final four with 11 points unless something extraordinary happens during the final week of the league stage.