Friday 20 April 2007 

Australia Demolish New Zealand By Record Margin

Australia demolished New Zealand by a World Cup record 215 runs on Friday in their final Super Eights match to extend their unbeaten run in the tournament to 27 since they lost to Pakistan in 1999.

The defending champions' winning margin between test nations in the tournament exceeded the 202-run victory recorded by England over India in a 60 overs match at the first edition in 1975.

It was also New Zealand's heaviest defeat ever in a one-day international.

Man-of-the-match Matthew Hayden bludgeoned his third century of the tournament, captain Ricky Ponting stroked 66 and Shane Watson smashed 65 from 32 balls to take the defending champions to 348 for six in their final Super Eights match.

New Zealand, who successfully chased two of the three highest targets ever against Australia during their 3-0 win in the Chappell-Hadlee series this year, went straight on to the attack in reply but lost wickets steadily to a series of loose shots.

They were eventually dismissed for 133 from 26 overs with opener Peter Fulton last man out for 62.

Both teams had already qualified for next week's semi-finals and could meet again in the final in Barbados on April 28 if New Zealand beat Sri Lanka in Jamaica next Tuesday and Australia defeat South Africa in St Lucia on the following day.

The Kiwis, already missing all-rounder Jacob Oram through a heel injury, lost fast bowler Shane Bond on Friday with a stomach complaint.

In their absence the Australians scored heavily off the New Zealand pace attack after Adam Gilchrist had departed for one, caught on the third-man boundary by Mark Gillespie from a slash off James Franklin.

WATSON STRIKES

Hayden and Ponting added 137 for the second wicket although they were kept in check to some extent by clever spin bowling from Jeetan Patel, in particular, and Daniel Vettori.

The runs still came steadily with Hayden hitting Michael Mason and Scott Styris for sixes and Ponting driving and pulling seven boundaries.

Ponting was first out, caught at mid-wicket by Ross Taylor off Patel then Hayden followed for 103, his 10th one-day century and his fourth against New Zealand when he was skillfully caught and bowled by Styris who turned and ran back to catch a skier.

Michael Clarke drove three fours in succession and was one short of his half-century before he was bowled leaving a straight delivery from James Franklin.

The depleted New Zealand attack, adroitly juggled by Stephen Fleming, was holding its own when Watson, returning to the side after missing three games with a calf strain, struck some of the cleanest blows of the day with four fours and four sixes.

When New Zealand batted, Fleming on-drove Nathan Bracken for a six and reached 12 when he was given out caught by Ponting at slip off Shaun Tait from a ball which seemed to brush his arm.

Styris, New Zealand's leading run-scorer in the tournament with an average in excess of 100, drove successive boundaries off Glenn McGrath square on the off. He reached 27 when he charged McGrath, lifted his head and was caught by Hayden at mid-wicket.

New Zealand's hopes went with him and Peter Fulton's patient 62 before he was last man out did nothing more than delay the inevitable.

Left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg finished with four for 29 from his seven overs.

© Reuters 2007