Australia were at the receiving end of jokes and pokes after folding up for 151 in 33.2 overs, but they nearly derailed the New Zealand chase, summoning their famed ‘mongrel’ (fighting spirit). This low-scoring contest was made memorable by Mitchell Starc’s six-wicket haul. He ended up on the losing side, but made sure this is a match for the ages. Here are the key match plays at Eden Park.
Southee nails openers
Aaron Finch and David Warner began like a freight train in a hurry. Ominously for New Zealand, Australia began with 15 off the first over. Then, Tim Southee found his mojo. Southee was wayward and expensive, but swing was his friend. He scalped both openers. His new ball partner, Trent Boult, was cranking up the pace to 140s kph range.
Dan ‘The Man’ Vettori
He brought all his experience to Eden Park and put the squeeze on Australia. He scalped Shane Watson and Steven Smith. With these two wickets, he became the fourth player to take 50 in ODIs between these teams. Vettori conceded only 2 fours and 1 six in his 10 over spell. Prior to this match, he had conceded just two boundaries in the 152 balls he delivered (90 dot balls).
Trent ‘Thunder’ Boult
From now on, add pace to this increasingly impressive left-arm bowlers CV. He ended with 5/27. At one point in his second spell, his stats read 3 overs, 2 maidens, 1 run, 5 wickets.
This was a throwback to December 3, 1986, when Windies pacer Courtney Walsh hit Lanka at Sharjah with a spell that read 4.3-3-1-5. Boult’s victims — Michael Clarke (12); Glenn Maxwell (1); Mitchell Marsh (0); Mitchell Johnson (1) and Mitchell Starc (0). Boult claimed 2 wickets in the 18th over, 1 in the 20th and 2 more in the 22nd.
New Zealand innings
McCullum in Beast Mode again
Skipper Brendon McCullum resumed his bang-bang brand right up front. At the receiving end was Aussie spearhead Mitchell Johnson. The left-armed managed to hit McCullum near the elbow with a 147kph missile. McCullum took on-field treatment and continued.
He took out the hurt on Johnson in the 7th over of the innings, smashing him for 4,6,4 off successive deliveries before taking a single to complete his 50 off 21 balls. He fell at the team score on 78 and it looked like NZ would make it a walk in the Park.
Mitchell ‘Lighting’ Starc
The tall and strong left-armer got Martin Guptill early. Oz got respite from McCullum’s caning courtesy Pat Cummins, but really started the fightback after Starc dismissed Ross Taylor for 0. Players headed for the innings break. When the game began again, Starc dismissed Grant Elliott for 0. He claimed Luke Ronchi for 6 after Maxwell accounted for Corey Anderson.
An Australian victory that looked improbable was not so any more and the walk in the park for NZ was vanishing with every wicket.
The match entered high drama territory in the 23rd over when Starc hit the stumps of both Adam Milne and Tim Southee off successive balls. He was on a hat-trick for the second time. In the meantime, Cummins had dismissed Vettori. New Zealand were 9 down.
Kane ‘And Able’ Williamson
The man tipped to be a star of the game showed fortitude and poise when colleagues around him were losing theirs in the face of the rampaging Starc. He scored 45, which could be easily valued as a ton and more. After Boult survived the last 2 balls from Starc’s 9th over, with Australia 1 wicket away from a win and New Zealand still 6 runs away from victory, Williamson wasted no time. He tonked Cummins for a 6 straight down the ground, taking his team home.
Boult was adjudged the player of the match, but Starc’s spell of 6/28 and Williamson’s knock will be talked about for a long time to come.