Monday, 30 March 2015 01:10
MELBOURNE (Reuters): Australia captain Michael Clarke signed off in style from international one-day cricket on Sunday by top scoring in his country’s crushing seven-wicket victory over New Zealand in the World Cup final.
After dismissing New Zealand for 183 in 45 overs before an Australian record crowd of 93,013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia cruised to their fifth World Cup with Clarke scoring 74 in the home team’s 186 for three from 33.1 overs.
James Faulkner, who took two wickets in the first over of the batting powerplay, was named man of the match and Mitchell Starc was player of the tournament after taking 22 wickets at 10.18 runs each.
Starc, one of a trio of Australian left-arm fast bowlers along with Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson, struck the decisive blow for the home side when he bowled New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum for a duck with the fifth ball of the opening over.
Clarke, who announced his retirement from one-day cricket on Saturday, said the Australian team had played really well through the match.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my country in both test and one-day cricket. The time is right for me to step down from ODI cricket,” he said.
McCullum, whose side were unbeaten in the tournament before Sunday’s match, said: “We played some outstanding cricket but we ran into an outstanding team in Australia. They continue to set the standard.”
After the early dismissal of the destructive McCullum, a fourth-wicket partnership of 111 between Ross Taylor (40) and Grant Elliott (83) appeared to restore the fortunes of a New Zealand team playing in their first final after six semi-final exits.
New Zealand had reached 150 for three with 15 overs remaining when Faulkner struck twice, dismissing Taylor caught behind by Brad Haddin and bowling the potentially dangerous Corey Anderson for a duck two balls later.
The remaining wickets fell swiftly and New Zealand were bowled out for the lowest first innings score in a 50 overs World Cup final since Australia ran through Pakistan for 132 at Lord’s in 1999.
Trent Boult raised New Zealand’s spirits temporarily by holding a simple return catch off bat and pad from Aaron Finch before the Australian opener had scored.
David Warner responded by striking Tim Southee for three consecutive fours and raced to 45 from 46 deliveries when he hooked Matt Henry to Elliott.
Clarke entered the arena to a standing ovation and attacking fields from McCullum who placed six players inside the circle on the off side.
Both Clarke and his heir apparent Steve Smith played the bowling on its merits as McCullum, whose aggression with the bat and as captain have transformed the national side, switched his bowlers and field placings in an effort to conjure a wicket.
Clarke struck Daniel Vettori over the bowler’s head for six and McCullum brought his best bowler Boult back for a final fling. Clarke responded with a perfect off drive to the boundary.
He reached his 50 from 56 balls in exactly an hour and acknowledged another standing ovation from the crowd for his 58th and final one-day fifty. After a final flurry of boundaries he was bowled by Henry, giving Smith (56 not out) time to complete his half century.
Australia previously won the World Cup in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007. No other country has won the tournament, which was first held in 1975, more than twice.
“We’re really proud,” Clarke said. “It’s a wonderful achievement, to win in our own backyard in front of family and friends.”