Australia are in a strong position to win the World Cup final after limiting New Zealand to 183 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.
Australia need 184 runs in 50 overs to win the World Cup. They were the favourites coming into this decider, and at the halfway stage, it looks likely that the pre-game prediction will come to pass.
New Zealand were on the back foot from the very first over. Brendon McCullum never looked comfortable against the pace and swing of Mitchell Starc, and was eventually bowled for 0. The pressure began to tell on Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson, and both succumbed. After just 12.2 overs, the Kiwis were in deep trouble at 39-3.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott proceeded to rebuild the New Zealand innings, putting on 111 runs for the fourth wicket. It was an especially impressive display by Elliott, who was the hero of the semi-final match against South Africa at Eden Park. Once again, he showed tremendous guts in the face of some fierce bowling. If not for Elliott’s determined performance, the Kiwis may have crumbled to an embarrassingly low total.
But just when New Zealand were threatening to take control, Australia came up with a series of game-breaking plays. James Faulkner was introduced at the start of the batting Powerplay, and claimed the key wickets of Taylor and Corey Anderson, the latter scoring 0. At the other end, Starc dismissed Luke Ronchi to become the leading wicket taker in the 2015 tournament (22).
New Zealand’s slim chances of posting a competitive total were dashed when Elliott edged Faulker to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. Mitchell Johnson provided excellent support to both Starc and Faulkner, and picked up a couple of lower order wickets to finish with three.
The Kiwis will now need Tim Southee and Trent Boult to emulate the Aussie bowlers if they’re to have any chance in this game. But if Australia start well, they will win this game comfortably and claim the world title.
New Zealand 183 all out in 45 overs (Grant Elliott 83, James Faulkner 3-36, Mitchell Johnson 3-30, Mitchell Starc 2-20)
Australia need 184 to win