Red-hot Aussies roast Kiwis

Feb. 25: Lights, camera and it was Australian action all day long. The defending champions crucified arch-rivals New Zealand by seven wickets in a grossly one-sided encounter at the VCA Stadium here on Friday.

Akin to a superstar who overshadows the support-cast in a film, the Aussies played their role to perfection. The clash, also the contest for this year’s Hadlee-Chappell trophy, saw Ricky Ponting’s men first restrict New Zealand to 206, and then chase it down with 16 overs to spare.

Aussie openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin treated the Kiwi attack with scant respect, bludgeoning boundaries and sixes with ridiculous ease.

The duo raised a 133-run opening stand in 18.1 overs before Haddin (55) and Watson (62) were dismissed in quick succession. While Ponting (12) departed early, Cameron White (22) and Michael Clarke (24) helped Australia cross the hurdle to register their 25th straight win in World Cup games.

The day began with the defending champions winning the toss and inserting the opposition. Australia grabbed the initiative by the fourth over the innings, removing dangerman Brendon McCullum (16), caught at third-man by Jason Krejza.

The Aussie quicks had the measure of the Kiwi batters. By the nineth over, New Zealand had lost both their openers. Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor then added 26 in quick time (4.3 overs).

Just when it seemed Ryder would help his team weather the storm, came the blow, when he nicked one to keeper Haddin after an entertaining 25. From 66/2, Kiwis slipped to 66/4, with James Franklin failing to trouble the scorers.

Each time the Kiwis looked to rebuild their innings, the Australians pegged them back. By 14.4 overs, Kiwis had half their side back in the hut, with Jamie How and Taylor in the middle. Taylor too was cut to size, when his middle-stump was disturbed by the tight Shaun Tait.

The Kiwis were limping at 73/6, and in the danger of finishing below the three-figure mark. The slide in the Kiwi top-order was caused mainly due to their lack of conviction in rotating the strike. Shockingly enough, their top-six batters managed just five runs in the form of singles.

However, Jamie and Nathan McCullum were about to alter that. The duo added 48 in 12 overs, before Jamie (22) was trapped in front by Steven Smith. In Vettori’s company, Nathan added 54 more to take the Kiwi total to 175, before he departed. Nathan made a patient 52 off 76 balls. Vettori (44) struck a few lusty blows to give his team’s total some respectability, but that proved to be too little to test Ponting’s men.

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