Australia regained the World Cup in front of a packed MCG on Sunday evening after relinquishing their title for just 4 years. Their historic triumph now means they have been victorious in four of the last five tournaments. They secured a comprehensive seven-wicket victory over their Trans-Tasman rivals and looked in control throughout the match.
Retiring captain Michael Clarke had the honour of lifting the famous trophy and top scoring in his sides run chase, in what was his final ODI appearance. While many expected the clash between the co-hosts to be a close fought contest, in truth, Australia dominated the match throughout.
Chasing 184 to win, Clarke came to the crease with his side in relative control at 63/2. He began his innings circumspectly, and showed the grit and attrition that has made him a star performer for the past decade. Reaching his 50 off 56 balls, Clarke began to open his arms and deposited Vettori high into the MCG stands. As victory became a certainty, Clarke put on a show for a crowd of over 93,000 in Melbourne, hitting Tim Southee for four consecutive boundaries to add a flourish to a comprehensive victory for his side.
Clarke could not complete his fairy-tale however, as he was bowled by Matt Henry for 74. Instead, it was his heir apparent, Steve Smith, who had the honour of hitting the winning runs. Smith made his own half-century and ably supported his skipper throughout their chase. Which was carried out with the minimum of fuss and more than 15 overs remaining.
The bulk of the damage was done in the first innings, as New Zealand could only limp to a below par 183. Having chosen to bat first on a flat looking Melbourne pitch, New Zealand preceded to stutter through their innings. Mitchell Starc set the tone for Australia with a beauty of a delivery to bowl Kiwi skipper McCullum with just the third ball of the match. Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Johnson then joined in to reduce their opponents to 39/3.
New Zealand were able to reach respectability thanks to a partnership of 111 between Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott. The pair combined to repel the Australian attack for 23 overs before Taylor was acrobatically caught behind by Haddin off the bowling of James Faulkner for 40 from 72 balls.
Faulkner, the slowest of the Australian seamers, mixed his pace and length well to deceive Corey Anderson, and sent him back to the pavilion after just two balls. Faulkner then cemented Australia’s advantage by removing Elliott for 83. After his semi final heroics, Elliott was the only batsman to get to grips with an accurate and determined Australian attack.
New Zealand didn’t have the platform to launch the late order assault this World Cup has come to symbolise, and fell away to 183 all out. All the Australian bowlers performed well, but Starc and Johnson were particularly impressive with their pace, hostility and immense control of a very full length.
It was then left to Clarke and his deputy to see Australia home to an historic World Cup victory.