© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Melbourne: Coming into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final with their nation’s hopes pinned on them, New Zealand faltered against their arch-rivals to post a modest score of 183. When Mitchell Starc dismissed the dangerous Brendon McCullum in the first over, New Zealand were put on the backfoot and they were behind the eight-ball although Grant Elliott, the hero of the semi-final, scripted a fighting knock of 83. On winning the toss, McCullum elected to bat, but his batsmen failed to capitalise on that and have given Australia a good shot at a sixth World Cup title in front of a record 91,112-strong crowd at the MCG. New Zealand to field unchanged side in World Cup Final

Perhaps it was nerves or the enormity of the stage that got to New Zealand. McCullum had promised that he won’t hold back his aggression and started off by attempting an expansive drive followed by a charge down the track to Starc. The Australian left-armer has been in tremendous form in this World Cup and his contest with McCullum was billed as one to watch out for. Starc had the last laugh as the fifth ball of the innings yorked McCullum and shattered the stumps. Australia celebrated, knowing the important of that scalp. READ: New Zealand dream of toppling Australia in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final

Despite losing McCullum early, New Zealand had the armoury to make up for it. However, Australia maintained the pressure and did not let them get away. The innings could be divided into three phases. In the first eleven overs, New Zealand were slow and then lost Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson. The second phase saw a recovery with Elliott and Ross Taylor stitching a partnership of 11 runs. Then came the batting powerplay, which saw New Zealand lose three wickets in no time. From 150 for three, they slipped to 151 for six. Any hopes of putting a big score had been dashed as Elliott cut a lone figure. Record crowd at attendance for Australia vs New Zealand ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final

Elliott batted with a lot of calm and positive intent. He was scoring near a run a ball and did not let the rampant Australian attack get to him. At the other end, Taylor was cautious during his innings of 40 and had settled in for the assault which never came. It was Elliott who picked boundaries and kept the scoring going. He was saved by the review a couple of times. Early in his innings, Glenn Maxwell hit him in front, and the umpire gave him out leg-before. The review showed the ball would have missed the stumps. Later, James Faulkner hit him high on his thighs and opted to review, which confirmed the umpire’s decision. Michael Clarke feels it’s right time to retire after ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 final

Had it not been Elliott’s fighting score, New Zealand would have struggled a lot. In hindsight, the first two overs of the batting powerplay were the death knell. Taylor was dismissed and then the dangerous Corey Anderson was bowled for a duck by Faulkner. Luke Ronchi walked in to some jeers and was caught behind soon by his former teammates. In the batting powerplay, New Zealand did not score more than 20 and soon after both Daniel Vettori and Elliott were out.

Australia’s bowlers shared the honours on the day, with Faulkner bowling a crucial spell in the middle overs. While Starc set the tone for the innings, Mitchell Johnson maintained the intensity as Faulkner capitalised. Not to forget the attacking captaincy by Michael Clarke, who kept fielders in strategic positions. If New Zealand are to win this, they need a similar effort, but clearly, it is advantage Australia.

Brief scores:

New Zealand (Ross Taylor 40, Grant Elliott 83; Mitchell Starc , Mitchell Johnson , James Faulkner ) vs Australia.