World Cup

Kiwis fail to break Australia’s stranglehold

There is Australia and then the rest. For a final it was disappointing, hardly the spectacle one looked forward to. Australia, a complete team, was simply too good, miles ahead of New Zealand. A lot was expected between the well-matched sides and I jumped in anticipation when Brendon McCullum won the toss. The batsmen had to put up a decent total, and leave it to the bowlers because they get decent assistance under the Melbourne Cricket Ground floodlights. No such thing happened.

New Zealand was blown away by a clinical Australia. The most spirited side in the competition was deflated within the first few minutes of the contest.

New Zealand could never really recover from that Mitchell Starc strike in the first over. McCullum falling for nothing was a setback the Kiwis failed to absorb. There was some resistance in the middle order, but it lacked substance. Australia never eased its stranglehold.

Once Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott fell, it was a matter of time for Australia to establish its dominance. The Aussie attack did a splendid job. And then the batsmen took over, leaving nothing to chance. Australia’s triumph was a tribute to its self-belief. The support staff had worked silently even as the team demonstrated its skills on the field. Barring the early hiccup, when it lost a close contest to New Zealand, the Australian team had looked near-invincible. The massive victory margins in the semifinal and the final put Australia in a completely different league.

Clarke’s farewell match triggered a wave of celebration in Australia. In this hour of glory, as Australia won the Cup for the fifth time, it was so poignant of Clarke to remember Phil Hughes, felled by a bouncer last November. Let us also spare a thought for the gallant Kiwis, who played some splendid cricket to come this far. Hard luck, New Zealand.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 5:39:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/kiwis-fail-to-break-australias-stranglehold/article7045873.ece

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