Australia fifth World Cup Win was a one-sided affair, as they beat New Zealand in the 33rd over, with seven wickets to spare in the final. They win the World Cup for the fifth time, and captain Michael Clarke leaves one-day international cricket on a high note. Here are five reasons why New Zealand were no match for Australia in the World Cup final.
McCullum loses key contest with Starc very early
This was the key battle in more ways than one. Whoever won it, would get also win the psychological advantage for his side. McCullum may not have played too many big innings in the tournament, but even with his cameos, he had set his side on the path to victory with his all-out-attack tactic that would push opponents on to the backfoot. In this match, McCullum faced only three balls. The first two he failed to connect. The third, Starc torpedoed an extra-fast yorker to the base of his off-stump and knocked it back. Losing their opener and captain in the first over itself not only nullified the advantage of winning the toss, but would have dented the morale in the New Zealand dressing room. They were expecting a rousing start from their star player, he had gone for nought and with it their elan, so to speak.
James Faulkner makes a mess of second powerplay for New Zealand
With a century-plus partnership, Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot had restored some semblance of order to the New Zealand innings. At the batting powerplay, New Zealand were 150 for 3: not quite the score the team would have anticipated at the end of 35 overs after winning the toss, but not looking quite so hopeless. If five overs of the powerplay could yield 40-50 runs, they could still hope for another 80-90 runs - and a total of 280-290 - to put pressure on the Australians. In the event they lost three wickets while adding only one run, Faulkner claiming two of these wickets. To make any recovery impossible, Faulkner also got Grant Elliott in this spell in which his clever variations of pace showed just why he is invaluable to the side despite being occasionally expensive.
Aussies brilliant in the field
Fielding is a key component of excellence in limited overs cricket. Australia have always been brilliant, but if there is a superlative to exceed that, New Zealand could subscribe to that. However, in the final, the Australians upstaged their Trans-Tasman cousins in this department too. The ground fielding and catching was superb, showing how badly they wanted to win the title. There were no easy runs on offer for any part of the New Zealand innings. In the circle or in the deep, the Australians were always a threat. And Maxwell's quicksilver pick-up ad direct throw to run out Southee was breathtaking. True, this was the last New Zealand wicket to fall and the outcome wasn't in doubt then, but it showed the intense level at which the Australians played on Sunday.
Can anybody stop Steve Smith?
His form has been Bradmanesque, and no praise can be higher. Not only has he got got runs every time he has gone out to bat, but has never looked like even being beaten.He's been Australia's man for every occasion right through the summer. When the season began, Steve Smith was one of several promising young Australian players. By the end of the season -with a record-breaking 700-plus runs in the Test series against India and a string of match-winning performances in other formats too - Smith has taken several gigantic steps towards greatness. His form has been Bradmanesque, and no praise can be higher. Not only has he got got runs every time he has gone out to bat, but has never looked like even being beaten. In the final, he had to come in early again as Aaron Finch fell in the first over. But he was unfazed either by the occasion or the challenge of winning the match. He may have been outscored by his captain, but Smith was the bulwark around which the run chase was built.
Michael Clarke makes his swansong supremely mellifluous
Having announced his retirement from ODIs, Clarke became central to the final. And how brilliant he was! In the first half, his attacking captaincy ensured that New Zealand would not be let off the hook after the early fall of McCullum. Losing the toss was a disadvantage that he turned to his benefit. The bowling changes became productive not because of the pitch or anything but because of the fields he set - including for the part-timers. Then there was his classy batting. There are several batsmen who scored more than Clarke in the tournament, but when he got going, he looked the best of the lot, raising some queries whether he had done the right thing by retiring. Yes he had, for there is nothing quite like retiring at the top.
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