Five-star stuff

Ross Taylor is caught behind by Brad Haddin off James Faulkner. This dismissal triggered another collapse and soon the Kiwis were bowled out for 183.-AP

Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner, later declared the Man of the Match, took three wickets apiece while Mitchell Starc, the Player of the Tournament, took two for 20 from his eight overs. Michael Clarke, in his final ODI, made 74 as Australia chased down the target of 184 with almost 17 overs to spare. Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

Australia won a fifth World Cup title after a straightforward defeat of New Zealand in the final. It was a lop-sided affair, with the outcome as good as obvious even before the end of the first innings.

Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner, later declared the Man of the Match, took three wickets apiece while Mitchell Starc, the Player of the Tournament, took two for 20 from his eight overs. Michael Clarke, in his final ODI, made 74 as Australia chased down the target of 184 with almost 17 overs to spare.

New Zealand batted first after winning the toss but there was none of the aggression that had been its hallmark throughout the tournament. Brendon McCullum was bowled by Mitchell Starc off the third ball of the match, which set the tone for the rest of the day.

New Zealand struggled to get into any sort of scoring rhythm and had crawled along to 33 for one in 11 overs when Michael Clarke brought on Glenn Maxwell. He bowled a rank long hop first ball which Martin Guptill failed to get away. The batsman was out off the next delivery, bowled, playing inside the line.

Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott then built a partnership of 111 runs for the fourth wicket. Elliott maintained his form from the semifinals, scoring an 82-ball-83. New Zealand’s innings had been revived, and at 150 for three in 35 overs, a total of 280 seemed within reach.

It was then that James Faulkner struck, getting Taylor caught behind off the first ball of the Powerplay with a slower delivery. Corey Anderson was bowled two balls later off a yorker. Luke Ronchi fell in the next over, caught in the slips off Starc. The life had been snuffed out of the New Zealand innings in the blink of an eye. From there, the Kiwis struggled to 183 all out in 45 overs. They had lost their last seven wickets for 33 runs in the space of 10 overs.

“They were too good, and you’ve got to sometimes acknowledge when a team is better than what you were on the day,” McCullum said later. “Hey, if we played them tomorrow, who knows what the result may be, but on the occasion, on the day, they stepped up and they delivered. They put us under early pressure, took three early wickets and then we re-gathered. We gave ourselves an opportunity at three for 150 and then they came again at us. All credit to them to be able to grab those key moments.”

Australia lost Aaron Finch early in reply, caught and bowled by Trent Boult, who finished as the tournament’s joint-top wicket-taker alongside Starc. That gave New Zealand some hope but McCullum, who had prided himself on his attacking approach, perhaps erred by getting rid of all bar one of his fielders in the slips cordon after the fifth over.

David Warner’s edge of Tim Southee flew through where a second slip would have been. Warner was eventually claimed for 45, in a manner not dissimilar to his dismissal against India. In came Clarke, in his 245th and final one-dayer. Steve Smith and he set about knitting together a partnership of 112 runs. Clarke was circumspect at first but soon displayed his full range of strokes, stepping out to loft Daniel Vettori and smashing Southee for four straight fours in an over. He fell nine runs from the end. Smith, who finished unbeaten on 56, scored the winning runs with a fine pull shot.

It was a fitting farewell for Clarke and the MCG rose as one to applaud him on his dismissal. “Obviously there’s no such thing as fairy-tales in sport, but that’s probably as close as it gets for me,” he said later.

“Not only to win a World Cup but to win in front of your home fans, and there was a lot of expectation, there was a lot of added pressure, the fact that we’re playing in Australia in front of our home fans, and I think the boys soaked that up from day one and loved every minute of it. I said after our semifinal that mentally we were ready for this final. I think we showed that today.

“The whole squad deserves a lot of credit. Every single player has played a big part in us having success, and we’ve worked really hard. I think even today, once we bowled New Zealand out, six or seven of the guys went to the nets for a hit in the lead-up to our batting innings just to make sure they were as well prepared as they could be and be ready to chase those 180 runs. It shows the discipline and the dedication to wanting the help the team have success.

“Yeah, I’m extremely proud, and really happy with how the day panned out. I think New Zealand deserve a lot of credit for the way they played throughout this tournament. We have the utmost respect for that team, and I guess my relationship with Brendon is very close, and I wish them all the best for the future.

“But it was a great final. I think the two best teams in the World Cup were in the final, and it just happened to be our day today.”