Australia win their fifth World Cup title © Getty Images
Australia win their fifth World Cup title © Getty Images

Melbourne: Michael Clarke bid farewell to One-Day Internationals (ODIs) in style as Australia clinched their fifth World Cup title by beating New Zealand by seven wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was fairytale stuff for Clarke, who had announced his retirement from the format on the eve of the final. Set a target of 184, Australia got their comfortably, with the man of the moment, Clarke, smashing an attractive 74. He was dismissed with Australia on the cusp of victory, but it was Steven Smith who stayed through to the end, which is quite symbolic considering the fact that he is likely to succeed Clarke as skipper. Full updates:  Australia vs New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Final

With New Zealand being bowled out for 183, there was a lot of talk about this game’s possible similarity with the 1983 World Cup final. After all, Kapil Dev’s team was bowled out for 183 and they successfully defended it against the mighty West Indies. And, when Trent Boult had Aaron Finch caught and bowled for a duck in the second over, those murmurs grew stronger. That was perhaps the only glimmer of hope New Zealand saw after a disappointing batting performance. FULL SCORECARD: Australia vs New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Final at MCG

David Warner then played attacking cricket. His stroke-filled innings of 45 eased those early nerves with Steven Smith holding the other end. Brendon McCullum tried everything in his book. There was a short phase where he didn’t have the attacking fielders in. But then, he brought men close in and packed the slips to try something interesting. Warner was dismissed for 45, but Clarke walked in as a man possessed. Aus vs NZ, final: Michael Clarke scores 58th ODI half-century

Through the tournament, Clarke has often promoted his teammates ahead of him. However, on this day, he walked in at No. 4 and took control. He looked determined to finish it on his own in a final blaze of glory. He played some crisp shots through the off-side, drove with authority, used his feet to Vettori and then also played an uppercut to show his inventive side. All in all, it was a glorious performance. The MCG crowd gave him a warm reception on getting a fifty. This is the stuff dreams are made of. Australia restrict New Zealand to modest 183 in ICC Cricket World up 2015 final

To watch Clarke bat was a pleasure for the record crowd at the MCG. He showed his greatness with the ease with which he played strokes. Having raced to fifty, he then looked in a hurry as Tim Southee was smashed for four fours in the 31st over. It was quite anti-climatic when he was dismissed for 74, having dragged one back onto the stumps from Matt Henry. By then, Australia were only nine runs away from victory. Smith completed his fifty and then took Australia home. READ: Brendon McCullum should have played a bigger role in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Final

Earlier in the day, New Zealand had won the toss and elected to bat first. The dangerous McCullum was castled for a duck in the first over by a rampant Mitchell Starc. New Zealand’s innings was one of struggle, apart from the Ross Taylor-Grant Elliott partnership of 111 runs. From 39 for three, they lifted the team to 150 with the batting powerplay on. That is when they lost their way, with three wickets falling in the first two overs of the batting powerplay. New Zealand lost their last seven wickets for 33 runs as they were bowled out for 183. Australia vs New Zealand, ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 Final: NZ innings highlights

Elliott followed up his heroics of the semi-final with a calm 83. While his teammates struggled, he looked at ease and scored at a very good rate. He rotated strike, picked boundaries and fueled hopes of a good score. However, wicket wickets falling at the other end, he cut a lonely figure amidst the ruins. While Mitchell Starc set the tone for the innings with the McCullum scalp, it was Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner who did the damage in the middle overs to restrict New Zealand to a modest total.

The platform was then setup for Clarke, who bid adieu in front of a record 93,013-strong crowd at the MCG. Clarke was quite young when he was a part of the 2007 World Cup winning side. Almost eight years down the line, he walked in the footsteps of Allan Border, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. What makes it special is that it came on home turf and for him, it would serve as a perfect tribute for his “little brother” Phillip Hughes.

Brief Scores:

New Zealand 183 in 45 overs (Ross Taylor 40, Grant Elliott 83; Mitchell Starc 2 for 20, Mitchell Johnson 3 for 30, James Faulkner 3 for 36) lost to Australia 186 for 3 in 33.1 overs (David Warner 45, Steven Smith 56* , Michael Clarke 74) by 7 wickets.


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)