Cricket World Cup 2015: A dream farewell for Michael Clarke
Roles had been assigned for the final and it made the job easy for the Australian captain, who led brilliantly.
- Total Shares
The script seemed to have been written well in advance. It only needed to unfold in front of a packed audience at the majestic Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia confirmed their position at the top with a thunderous performance. Having crushed India in the semi-finals, they were relentless in the execu-tion of their plans, punishing New Zealand in an anti-climactic finish to the tournament.
But none can grudge Australia. They had consistently shown signs of becoming the champions. New Zealand had played outstanding cricket right through the event, but it counted for nothing against their determined trans-Tasman rivals.
New Zealand had come into the final after some resilient cricket at home. Many had reckoned they were the team to beat and had the credentials to upset Australia even though the conditions favoured Michael Clarke and his men.
However, a brilliant opening over by Mitchell Starc set the tone for the final.
Brendon McCullum showed needless haste. The early dent must have spoilt New Zealand’s planning. The skipper’s aggression had given the Kiwi innings the tempo throughout the tournament. It was critical for McCullum to give himself some time at the wicket and respect Starc, one of the finest bowlers in the World Cup.
There was nothing wrong in showing some caution, but McCullum loves to gain early control. New Zealand’s reliance on McCullum and Martin Guptill became evident in the final. Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott put the innings back on the rails, but the Australians did not ease the pressure.
An incisive spell by James Faulkner scuttled Kiwi hopes and swung the final Australia’s way. It was one of the days when nothing worked for New Zealand. They never looked the team they were in the preceding matches. Much of it seemed to be a result of the size of the ground.
There was movement for the bowlers and Australia kept the pressure on by attacking the stumps. When others were exploring the angles and bowling cross-seam, Starc pitched the ball up. He was the only bowler in this World Cup who did not err in line and length.
It is the sign of a fine bowler that he sticks to a line and length that causes discomfort to the batsmen. Starc also has the pace to add to his skills. When he pitches the ball up at that pace and extracts movement, hebecomes difficult to handle.
McCullum’s dismissal was well thought out. I admire the way Starc pitches the ball up.
When New Zealand got out for 183, my mind went back to Lord’s, 1983. We also had a great batting line-up to deal with, but had helpful conditions and the bowlers to exploit them.
New Zealand needed some early breakthroughs to put Australia under pressure. The wicket of Aaron Finch created excitement, but it was only an illusion. New Zealand was not up to the mark and runs came at a comfortable pace.
Looking back, India, Australia and New Zealand finished with one defeat each. For the Kiwis, the loss came at the final post. It must have been heartbreaking for McCullum and co. They had looked a champion team, but Australia was not to be denied. They played as a team. Individual brilliance cannot bring results consistently and Australia realised it early.
Roles had been assigned and it made the job easy for Clarke, who led brilliantly. McCullum was outstanding too, but Clarke, in his farewell One Day match, created pressure.
He did not concede an inch. This comes from studious assessment of the opposition. Hats off to the most consistent team in the history of the World Cup!