Drama at the end: New Zealand beats Australia at World Cup

2015-02-28 13:37

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Four years in the making, the Cricket World Cup group match between New Zealand and Australia lived up to all the hype.

Not long before Australia’s final wicket fell after scoring a paltry 151 runs today, Pharrell Williams’ song Happy resonated around the ground at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand.

It certainly was that kind of day – at least at that stage – for the home team. Trent Boult took five wickets and Australia lost its last nine wickets for 71 runs, and the crowd was in raptures.

Two hours and two minutes later, New Zealand chased down the Australian total with just one wicket to spare, and not before some anxious moments for the 40 000-plus crowd.

Pool A leader New Zealand, despite losing five late wickets for 15 runs, reached 152-9 in the 24th over to win for the fourth consecutive time in this tournament and all but clinch a place in the quarterfinals.

The neighbouring countries have met only rarely in one-day internationals in recent years. The last completed ODI between the teams was in 2011. They were due to meet at the 2013 Champions Trophy but that match was halted by rain.

Boult (5-27) bowled a devastating second spell in which he took five wickets for three runs in 16 balls as Australia crashed from 80-2 in the 13th over to be all out when Brad Haddin (43) was dismissed 19 overs later.

Mitchell Starc took six wickets for Australia before Kane Williamson clubbed a six in an unbeaten innings of 45 to get New Zealand over the line.

Australia may have been motivated by chants of “you’re worse than England,” from the crowd. New Zealand beat England by eight wickets, chasing down the target in 12.2 overs after the English scored 123 runs in a match at Wellington, the New Zealand capital.

Australia captain Michael Clarke made his return to the lineup after nine weeks out following hamstring surgery but was one of the many batting disappointments, scoring just 12 runs.

“We backed ourselves all the way in but we fell one wicket short,” Clarke said. “Full credit to the Kiwis, they played outstandingly. They’ve been playing great cricket for a while now and we were not up to the challenge today.”

In the other match today, Pool B-leading India looked set to win its third match in a row, bowling out the United Arab Emirates for just 102 runs in 31.3 overs after the UAE won the toss and decided to bat at the WACA ground at Perth, Western Australia.

Ravichandran Ashwin took 4-25 to lead the Indian bowlers.

In matches tomorrow, England plays Sri Lanka at Wellington and Pakistan takes on Zimbabwe at Brisbane, Australia.

England hopes it can vanquish memories of its last disastrous encounter in Wellington. A week ago, England lost to New Zealand at the so-called “Cake Tin” stadium in one of the most lopsided matches in its history. And that came after a big loss to Australia in its opener.

Sri Lanka, meanwhile, wants to keep the momentum going after it bounced back from an opening loss to New Zealand to beat Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

England bowler Chris Woakes said he felt his team had a good chance to turn around its fortunes in Wellington.

“Obviously the last time we were there it didn’t exactly go to plan,” he said. “It’s hard to read too much into that game, I suppose. We were pretty poor. We obviously didn’t get a total on the board, and Tim Southee bowled exceptionally well.”

After two losses to open the tournament, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq can’t see any reason for his squad to panic, and he has history on his side.

Pakistan won the World Cup in 1992, the only other time it was co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand. Imran Khan’s Pakistan squad kicked off its campaign with a 10-wicket loss to West Indies, beat Zimbabwe and then lost to India and South Africa and got to share the points with England in a rain-affected group game.

One match, a big win over Australia in Perth, sparked a streak that included victories over Sri Lanka and New Zealand and culminated in a defeat of England in the final.

“The important lesson is never give up. That’s what Imran Khan usually says about 1992,” Misbah said.

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