Australia crush New Zealand in Nagpur
Australia proved far too powerful for New Zealand in their Group A match on Friday, overwhelming the Black Caps by a convincing seven wickets in Nagpur.
It was a poor day for the Kiwis from the moment Ricky Ponting won the toss and put them in to bat. They were lucky to make as much as 206 after a major batting collapse, and that total was never enough to trouble the powerful Australian batting lineup.
Openers Brad Haddin and Shane Watson both made fifties in an effortless run chase, putting on 133 for the first wicket before each fell to Hamish Bennett during the 19th over.
But by then the result was in absolutely no doubt, and despite the subsequent loss of Ricky Ponting - who was brilliantly stumped by Brendon McCullum - Michael Clarke and Cameron White steered Australia home with a whopping 16 overs to spare.
The win puts Australia at the top of the table, as Ponting’s men have now won two out of two in their pursuit of a fourth successive World Cup. Meanwhile, New Zealand may have injury concerns to add to their woes, with captain Danny Vettori ending the game on the bench and fast bowler Bennett finishing the game in tremendous discomfort.
Although even a great bowling effort would have been unlikely to restrict Australia, New Zealand’s bowlers certainly didn’t produce one. There was no sign of the straight lines they used to demolish Kenya’s batting in their first game last weekend.
There was a multitude of bad balls up front, particularly on the leg side. Several wides went to the boundary, with wide balls costing a remarkable total of 29 runs.
TOP ORDER COLLAPSE
Earlier, Australia restricted New Zealand to just 206, but could have done far better considering they had the Kiwis at 73/6 at one stage.
The men in yellow had reduced New Zealand to terrible position after 17 overs, with their quick bowlers ripping through the top order to make the score 73/6.
The Aussie bowling was hit and miss from the beginning, but there was enough ‘hit’ for them to take key New Zealand wickets in the early going.
Shaun Tait got rid of the dangerous-looking McCullum as he had him caught at third man, then Watson bowled fellow opener Martin Guptill.
New Zealand recovered to 66/2 but then came four wickets in just a few minutes.
Mitchell Johnson grabbed two in one over, with Jesse Ryder and James Franklin both edging him behind.
Tait quickly got rid of two more as Scott Styris played a loose shot for another Haddin catch, and Ross Taylor then played around a straight one and was clean bowled.
That made it 73/6, but New Zealand fought back well from that point.
Jamie How and Nathan McCullum put on 48 runs for the seventh wicket, then McCullum and Vettori put on 54 for the eighth.
After McCullum departed for 52, Vettori played some unconventional but effective strokes to make it to a quick 44 off 42 deliveries and give New Zealand some hope of getting close to 250.
But then Brett Lee had him caught behind in the 45th over, and number 10 Tim Southee only survived one more ball as New Zealand fell well short of using their 50 overs.
Australia took longer than they should have to bowl their overs, however, and that may not have helped in their efforts to clean up the tail sooner. Ponting’s quicks were doing the damage, but he had to accelerate the over rate by using spinners Jason Krejza and Steve Smith after the initial Kiwi collapse.
Johnson took 4/33 in 9.1 overs and Tait 3/35 in seven, good figures that don’t quite tell the full story of how many bad balls they bowled. A stronger batting side might well have punished them a lot more.
Lee was arguably the best of the Australians despite only getting one wicket in his eight overs for 29.
"It was a very good win for us today," said Australian skipper Ponting. "We know New Zealand are a very competitive team, especially in one-day cricket, so for us to win as well as we have is very satisfying.
"When our three quick bowlers bowl at their best then they're going to be very dangerous, no matter who we're playing or what the conditions are.
"Johnson was outstanding again today, Tait came back really well after his first spell and Brett Lee bowled the same way he's bowled for the last three our four months.
"There's room for improvement, but things are going along nicely at the moment."
New Zealand - Brendon McCullum (wk), Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor, James Franklin, Scott Styris, Nathan McCullum, Jamie How, Daniel Vettori (capt), Hamish Bennett, Tim Southee
Australia – Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Cameron White, David Haussey, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Shaun Tait