Australia is through to the ICC Champions Trophy final for the first time after beating New Zealand by 34 runs in Mohali, India, overnight. The result was never really in doubt, once Australia had the Kiwis reeling at 6-35 in the 15th over.
After the headline-rattling charges of our attack being too old, with fingers pointing squarely at Glenn McGrath, our pace attack was fearsome against the Kiwis, and guess who led the charge.
Man of the match McGrath bowled ten straight overs, including two maidens, and finished with 3-22 and an economy rate of 2.20.
Just about any bowler in the world would happily accept those figures and the best thing was that McGrath, rediscovering his powers after a long absence to support his wife’s fight with cancer, seemed to enjoy himself, smiling and laughing between leaving bats helplessly dangling, as he does.
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It was only a fighting innings from Daniel Vettori, who originally survived then counter-punched to make 79 against the tide, that saved the Kiwis from a total hiding. Even then, Michael Hussey had dropped him in slips on five.
The New Zealanders had Australia in trouble early in the game, with paceman Kyle Mills removing openers Adam Gilchrist and Shane Watson cheaply. Australia was 2-4 before Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting steadied things. From there, the Australians built a solid innings to finish on 9/240.
Any hope the Kiwis had evaporated from the moment they had made it to 0/16. McGrath, Lee and Bracken pounded the New Zealand top order and all claimed wickets.
When you watch the Australian attack in full flight and realise Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson are still to come, with genuine pace and variety, our World Cup chances next year in the Caribbean suddenly don’t look so bad, creaky veterans or not.
In the New Zealand Herald, Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming blamed the top order for the defeat, saying: “We just weren’t good enough with the bat. We were outskilled at the top of the order; they just knocked us over.”
Australia will now contest the final on Sunday against either the West Indies or South Africa.