Like Sri Lanka did in their game against Australia after ensuring a spot in Semi-final, New Zealand too rested two of their key players Jacob Oram and Shane Bond in one of the most anticipated Super Eights game, there by killing the contest before it even got started. The outcome was even more embarrassing for the Kiwis than their opponents of the semis suffered. Australia like a true professional side did not bother about the constitution of the opposing team and fielded their best possible players including Shane Watson in the team in place of Brad Hodge. Watson made everybody know that he is now totally recovered from his injury by blasting the erring Kiwi bowling attack for 65 runs of just 32 balls in another display of power hitting.
But it was Matthew Hayden’s amazing power hitting and Ricky Ponting’s continuing good form with the bat during the first PowerPlay that quickly dissipated any chances of New Zealand making inroads into Australia’s top order. Their partnership set the platform for the later batsmen to take Australia past the 300 total for seventh consecutive time in the matches they batted first. This has now become a norm for them than an exception. They started this phenomenal run in the 2nd ODI of the Chapell-Hadlee Series by making 336 for 4 at Auckland
and 346 for 5 at Hamilton
. The 300 plus core in their last super 8 game against New Zealand is their 5th out of the 9 matches they batted first in World Cup. They made 334 for 6 against Scotland
, 358 for 5 against Netherlands
and 377 for 6 against South Africa
in their Group matches at Warner Park, Basseterre, St Kitts
. In their first Super Eight game against West Indies they made 322 for 6
. In the matches they did not bat first they chased the down targets quiet comfortably by 10 wickets against Bangladesh
, by 7 wickets against England
, by 9 wickets against Ireland
and by 7 wickets against Sri Lanka.
But none of those wins may have given the Australian the kind of pleasure they derived out of the thrashing they inflicted on Kiwis to take the revenge of their 3-0 loss of Chappell-Hadlee series. The 215 runs margin of victory is the biggest in any ODI between two test playing nations and beats the previous worst of 202 runs suffered by India in the first ever World Cup match against England
which became famous more for Gavaskar’s sedate batting of unbeaten 36 of 60 overs than the margin of victory.
Another feature of the current Australian team in this tournament is that they have bowled out the opposition in all of their nine matches barring one against the Bangladesh. But the reason for that has more to do with Messrs. Duckworth and Lewis than with the Australian bowlers as that match was reduced to 22 overs a side and Bangladesh made 104 for the loss of six wickets.
If Sri Lanka and New Zealand were thinking that they are saving their trump cards for the potential outing against the defending champions in the World Cup final on April 28th, then the first thing they must realize is that only one of them will have a chance to do that and then for a team which has shown the kind of remarkable consistency in every department of the game, the only way to encounter them is to take them by horns at every chance you get.
In that aspect South Africa has a better chance of defeating the Aussies in the semi-final than either Sri Lanka or New Zealand in the final. The Proteas were the only team who played the game the way Australia does in the group stages and for the first 20 overs it looked as if they would run away with a victory like they did at Johannesburg on March 12th, 2006 in the greatest ODI chases ever
Coming back to the match in question here, after Adam Gilchrist slashed at James Franklin’s out side the off-stump delivery and was very well caught at third man by Mark Gillespie to the 1st ball of the innings’ second over, Kiwi bowlers were tortured by both Ponting and Hayden for 22 long overs which yielded 137 runs.
Hayden muscled his way for another hundred, his third of the tournament whereas Ponting made same number of runs that he made against Sri Lanka before he scooped up a catch of Jeetan Patel’s tossed-up delivery to Ross Taylor at mid-wicket who grabbed it with an utmost glee. Michael Clarke made 49 before he was frozen in time and let a Franklin delivery hit his stumps. Hussey spent the much needed time at the crease and made 37 before getting out in the final over. Symonds with 11 and Gilchrist with 1 were the only ones to have missed the party. Shane Watson took the match away from New Zealand in a matter of 18 deliveries by making 47 out of the 51 runs made during the last three overs. Watson seems to have more amazed at himself than the crowd did when he finished the innings with a remarkable six over the extra cover of the last ball of the innings Watson in the process equaled Tom Moody’s record for fastest fifty
by an Australian in World Cup.
With the memories of Chappell-Hadlee series still fresh one would have expected a close game when Kiwis started their batting and made 21 runs by half way through the fourth over. But a horrible umpiring decision which resulted in Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming losing his wicket for 12 after Shaun Tait’s short pitched delivery brushed his left fore-arm and went straight to Ponting at second slip, opened up the gates for the Australian bowlers and they ran through all over the Black Caps. McGrath for the sixth time took a wicket in the first over he bowled in a match in this World Cup. He finished with 2 for 25 where as Brad Hogg took 4/29 and mopped up the tail. Tait took 3 for 32 and Shane Watson gave further evidence that he is completely recovered from his injury by taking 1 for 20 of 5 overs. Peter Fulton fought a lone battle and made 62 and the match ended when he was out as the last batsman. Apart from Fleming and Fulton only Scott Styris with 27 could reach double figures.
Australia’s flawless and resounding victories in every match they have played in this tournament means that they are destined to become the first team ever to make it a hat-trick of World Cup titles. It appears the only way to stop them is to make them not to show up for the final. I doubt either Graeme Smith’s team or anybody else will be able to achieve that. But strange things have happened in World Cup finals before. Ponting should ask either Clive Llyod or Kapil Dev, the opposing captains of 1983 finals, if he wants to know.
Today’s ‘Quiztion of the Day’
is about the crushing defeats of highest order like the one suffered by New Zealand.
The highest margin of victory in a World Cup match has also witnessed two other major World Cup records. Provide the details.
Remember to email your answers for each quiz individually to firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject line as 'Quiztion of the Day - X'
(X being the question number) through out the tournament duration. Results will be first posted on http://www.dreamcricket.com/
website within a week of the World cup Final.