Australia vs New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland: Feb 28, 2015 - Match Review
New Zealand beat Australia by 1 wicket.
Who says low scoring matches are boring, who says that more 4's and 6's means more fun? I have for long believed that low scoring matches are much more interesting than when a team rakes up 400 and the pressure of that high score leaves the chasing side crumbling under pressure. Australia and New Zealand provided a match that ebbed and flowed and rose and fell like waves of a churning and turbulent sea. This match was always billed to be a classic and both the teams gave us a match to remember for a very long time!
The match started with both the teams a bit nervous as Tim Southee sprayed it around trying to locate his radar and Australia raced to 30 in the third over. Finch had just deposited Southee for a six straight over his head but was bowled the very next delivery trying to repeat the shot. Watson joined Warner and he struggled early on. Southee continued to leak runs up front but Boult was economical and found his line and length. McCullum turned to the experience of Daniel Vettori to put a cap on the scoring rate and he responded beautifully by controlling his pace and with subtle variations of flight. Watson would soon succumb to the pressure and hole out and when Southee, changing ends pinged back Warner to win an lbw decision the Australians had lost two in two and were 80-3 in the 13th over.
Michael Clarke and Steven Smith were entrusted with the job of resurrecting the Aussie innings but Smith departed soon to the guile's of Vettori again. Brendon McCullum, the most aggressive captain of the modern day then brought back his ace spearhead Trent Boult and he responded to the call by a brilliantly blinding display of bowling. If Tim Southee had ripped apart the English a few days ago, today was the turn of Boult who left the Aussie batsmen confounded. Boult cleaned up Maxwell and Marsh in the same over, both playing on to their stumps as uncertain foot movements led to their downfall. Clarke soon followed as he gave a simple catch to short cover off the rampaging Boult. He would soon dispatch the two left armers in the Australian team, Johnson to a brilliant catch by Williamson and Starc to an absolute peach that bowled him neck and crop. Haddin put on a fighting 45 for the last wicket with pat Cummins to lend some respectability to their total but the Australians had finished with a subpar score of 151. Boult finished his second spell with magical figures of 5-3-3-5
New Zealand again came out to bat before the lunch break and Brendon again went in to an overdrive against the pace of Starc and Johnson. He carved pitched up deliveries over mid-off, cover and point regions. The Aussie bowlers pitched it up to find some swing but the only swing that was found was off the bat of McCullum as he flayed them to all parts of the ground reminiscent off his innings against the English last week. Clarke soon switched to plan B and instructed Johnson to bowl short at the rampaging McCullum. The field was set for that and the first ball hit the Kiwi skipper flush in his arm. Ouch!! That was a painful blow and though he hit some more fours but he was quite ginger in his movements after that blow. McCullum departed in the 8th over after hitting 50 off just 24 balls and his pyrotechnics ensured that they were almost 80 by that time.
But if New Zealand believed that they could have it easy against their hardnosed neighbors then they were in for a shock and a little collapse of their own. Starc clean bowled Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot either side of the lunch break to set hearts fluttering in the packed stands of the Eden Park and giving a glimmer of hope to the Australian fans. Corey Anderson and Kane Williamson took the score to 131 but Corey was tentative throughout his stay. He gave a catch off Maxwell looking for a release and then Starc had Ronchi caught by Haddin. When Vettori went for a duck the match was still in control of the Kiwis as they needed only 7 runs with 3 wickets in the bank. Johnson bowled a maiden and then Clarke tossed the ball to Starc once again. Williamson took a single off the second ball and left Milne with 4 balls to survive. Starc produced two high class yorkers to dismiss Milne and Southee off successive deliveries and New Zealand were suddenly 146 for 9 with 6 still needed for a victory. Out walked Boult, the hero with the ball for New Zealand and he somehow kept out the two deliveries. Williamson nonchalantly picked up the first ball off the next over by Pat Cummins back over his head to seal the game by a wicket.
The Kiwi players pose with the Chappel-Hadlee trophy after beating
Australia by a solitary wicket in Auckland
With this win, barring a stunning reversal in fortunes, New Zealand are almost sure to top the Pool A. Australia, well they still have a lot to do as they have already dropped a point against Bangladesh, a game which was washed out. This was a match, which everyone expected the batsmen to dominate because of the short straight boundaries but classic swing bowling from both sides brought the batsmen to ground. Boult and Starc were the stand out performers though Vettori, McCullum and Williamson all had their say in the final result as well!
PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com