Australia defeated New Zealand by 86 runs at Lord’s on Saturday. The Kiwis who are yet to confirm a semi-final berth have now lost two matches on the trot. Another defeat and their case to qualify for the semis would get tough and dependent on a lot of permutation and combination.
Australia, on the other hand, are the only team that have cemented their place in the top-four. Batting first, the Aaron Finch-led side posted 244, with the help of a brilliant partnership by Alex Carey and Usman Khawaja. Also the highlight of the first innings was Trent Boult’s hat-trick of Australia’s last three batsmen.
Defending a target of 245, Australia dismissed New Zealand for 157 runs and thus recorded their seventh win of the tournament. Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey put up a 107-run stand for the sixth wicket to take Australia out of a precarious situation batting first after which Mitchell Starc’s fifer ensured that they pull off a comprehensive win in the end.
Jason Behrendorff made the early inroads for the Australians early on, dismissing the New Zealand openers cheaply. Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor then propped up the New Zealand chase and their stand of 55 was the best that the Kiwis could muster. It was broken by Starc who got the big wicket of Williamson. The New Zealand skipper departed for 40 off 51.
Ross Taylor was then starved for runs and succumbed to the pressure. He tried to go aerial off Pat Cummins and ended up skying the ball high up in the air. Wicketkeeper did well to complete the catch as the ball hung in the air for a fair bit of time. Carey was man of the match for his knock during the Australian innings and admitted that he has seldom seen a ball fly so high up in the air.
Finch brought in Steve Smith and ended up reaping dividends. Smith lured Colin de Grandhomme into attempting a big hit and the ball ended up going straight down the throat of wide long off. He followed that up by taking a screamer off Starc to dismiss Tom Latham. Latham middled the shot well and was looking to get the ball to the midwicket fence but Smith flew to his right and pluck the ball out of thin air.
Nathan Lyon caught James Neesham off his own bowling after which Starc almost got a hat-trick by taking Ish Sodhi and Lockie Ferguson off consecutive balls. Trent Boult had got a hat-trick earlier in the day and it was Boult that denied Starc his own treble. Eventually however, Starc got his fifth wicket by getting Mitchell Santner dismissed for 12.
Earlier in the day, pacers Boult, Ferguson and Neesham got New Zealand to 92/5 in the 22nd over. However, Carey countered with Khawaja holding up the other end. It was Williamson who got Carey in the end after which Boult’s hat-trick cleaned up the rest of the Australian batting lineup.
Brief scores: Australia: 243/9 in 50 overs (Usman Khawaja 88, Alex Carey 71; Trent Boult 4/51, James Neesham 2/28) beat New Zealand: 157 in 43.4 overs (Kane Williamson 40, Ross Taylor 30; Mitchell Starc 5/26)