Australia have firmed as favourites to win the Cricket World Cup after bowling New Zealand out for 183 in 45 overs at the MCG on Sunday afternoon.
Some excellent early bowling by Mitchell Starc and mid-over variety by James Faulkner was enough to undo a solid batting line-up. New Zealnd lost a devastating 7/33 in an inspired stint of bowling.
The Aussies were sharp in the field and although a couple of close run-out chances were narrowly missed, not much escaped the in-field or was left to run to the boundary in the deep.
Starc removed the dangerous Brendan McCullum with only his third ball. The roar of the crowd was deafening. A powerful exchange that matched the intensity the Australian’s brought to the pitch.
Glenn Maxwell was given early overs by captain Michael Clarke and the reward was immediate. Maxwell hit the top of off stump as Guptill rocked back to push the ball square. New Zealand lost their openers for only 33 runs after 11.2 overs.
Mitchell Johnson continued the tempo with a fiery opening spell. He rocketed a ball to the boots of Kane Williamson who throbbed a leading edge back to the bowler on 12 (33). Australia looked to run away with the match, until a solid partnership kicked the Kiwis back in gear.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot patiently prodded and poked their way to a 111-run partnership that helped New Zealand to 3/150 after 35 overs and into the batting powerplay.
James Faulkner sensed an onslaught from Ross Taylor and slid a ball across his body, earning an edge that was exceptionally gloved by Brad Haddin. Faulkner was feeling the buzz and kept the wickets tumbling, sending Corey Anderson back to the shed for a second-ball duck.
The Kiwi batsmen were struggling to get the pads on when another wicket fell. Mitchell Starc was insightfully reintroduced and impacted immediately getting Ronchi caught by Clarke in first slip. At 6/151 New Zealand looked to veteran Daniel Vettori to combine with Elliot in the remaining overs.
Vettori could only manage 9 (21) before Johnson ripped a yorker through his defences. Faulkner had Elliot caught behind only 4-runs later and New Zealand were 8/171 down. The Aussies polished off the remaining batsmen including a stunning run out to close the innings by Glenn Maxwell. The ball was picked up and flicked to the non-striker’s end in an instant, catching Tim Southee by surprise.
“It’s in our hands now to chase the runs,” commented James Faulkner, who finished with 3/36 from 9 overs, including the crucial wickets of Taylor (40) and Elliot (83).
“Hopefully we can start well with the bat and chase this total down.”