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Aussies within sight of the elusive trophy
by Vijay Jeedigunta
Nov 01, 2006
The Kangaroo juggernaut marched into the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy crushing the Kiwis that came in their path. To their credit the New Zealanders did their best and survived as long as they did thanks to some gritty performances by Oram and Vettori after being 35 for 6 at one stage.

Nobody seem to be capable of dismantling the Aussie team spirit. The Aussies unfailingly produce a performer who will rise to the occasion and deliver a crushing blow whenever the chips are down.

After Fleming won the toss and put Australia in to take advantage of the pitch Kyle Mills responded immediately by removing both Aussie openers Shane Watson and Adam Gilchrist in the space of 4 deliveries in the 3rd over of the innings.

Aussies, who have never won the Champions Trophy were confident ahead of the match. "There are no excuses now for us, We've got a good team, we've got a full list of guys to pick from and we're playing a semi-final at a venue that we've just played a game on. We can't complain with the way things have worked out for us," Ponting told The Australian yesterday. After that Mills over, it seemed as if they were going to be unable to lift the curse of the Champions Trophy this time as well.

Ponting, took matters into his own hands and, although he looked shaky to begin with, he played a glorious innings of 58 to build the innings.

Ponting first added 66 runs for the 3rd wicket with my man of the tournament, Damien Martyn, and then another 53 runs with the sure-to-be-his-successor Michael Hussey.

Andrew Symonds then showed why he is a key-player of this Australian team by playing his trademark innings. After Symonds fell at 211 in the 46th over, the last four overs yielded just 29 runs with Kyle Mills finishing another great spell of the tournament with figures of 4 for 38. Though the Australians reached a respectable total of 240 in the end it did not quite look like a winning one.

But tell that to the Australian bowling machine Glen McGrath, who everybody started writing off, including yours truly.

In an incisive spell of 3 for 22 bowling all of his overs quota on a trot McGrath not only broke the back of New Zealand batting but made his bowling mates to rise to the occasion to send the top 6 kiwi batsmen back to the pavilion before the score reached 36.

Had it not been for a mess up by Hussey who dropped a sitter in the slips when Vettori was just on 5, New Zealand may have not even reached 50.

Vettori like he did against Sri Lanka earlier played another cameo innings of 79, four runs short of his highest ODI score. With Jacob Oram he added 103 runs in an unbelievable seventh wicket partnership which must have given Ponting a heart attack.

With Jacob Oram (43) and Kyle Mills (21) chipping in with useful knocks victory was still not a forgone conclusion until Vettori fell at 180. Bond and Mills hit a barrage of boundaries and kept the fight on. The Kangaroos heaved a sigh of relief when Kyle Mills top edged a ball from Brett Lee to Gilchrist. That paved the way for a spot for Australia in a Champions Trophy Final for the first time. The Kangaroos certainly won't be seen celebrating until they have the last remaining silverware in their cabinet.

 
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