Australia has won the ICC Cricket World Cup, defeating New Zealand in just 33.1 overs to win by 7 wickets at the MCG in front of an Australian record crowd of 93,013.
The win was the perfect farewell for Australian captain Michael Clarke, who announced his retirement from one day international cricket on Saturday, and scored 74 runs off 72 balls to guide his side to an exhilarating victory after the Kiwi middle order and tail end collapsed to be all out for 183 in the 45th over.
It’s Australia’s fifth World Cup win in six finals appearances.
Bowler James Faulkner was named man of the match for his tipping point performance: a double wicket maiden to begin the New Zealand collapse.
The Black Caps staged an impressive tournament, under the aggressive captaincy of Brendon McCullum and dangerous swing bowling, but this was the first finals appearance for the New Zealanders and the pressure showed after they won the toss and decided to open the batting.
McCullum lasted just two balls before Mitchell Starc struck in the opening over. He was gone for a duck, with the Kiwis were 1/1.
After Martin Guptill fell to Glenn Maxwell for 15 and Mitchell Johnson had Kane Williamson caught and bowled for 12, leaving New Zealand at 3/39.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott dug their side out of trouble to be 3-150 before before Taylor went for 40 from 72 in a 111-run fourth wicket stand. Corey Anderson was gone for a duck two balls later.
It unravelled quickly for New Zealand, the final dismissal summing up the night, when Tim Southee was left short at the non-striker’s end after Maxwell fired the ball at the stumps.
Australia’s best were Faulkner with 3-26, and Johnson with 3-30.
New Zealand struck early when Trent Boult nailed Aaron Finch for a duck, caught and bowled, to have Australia 1-2.
Dave Warner settled in for a crisp 45 to have the side at 2-63 when Clarke walked to the crease for the final time in an ODI to accompany Smith, who was on 14 in the 13th over. Together they built Australia’s win, with Clarke reaching his 50 in 56 balls, including five 4s, and a six.
Clarke belted four consecutive 4s as he hurried to end the match but fell at the last moment, chopping the ball onto his stumps just nine runs from victory.
Shane Watson joined Smith on 47, who then posted his 50 in 65 balls, then smashed the ball to the boundary at square leg to finish the game at 3-186.
After the match, Australian keeper Brad Haddin said “We’re going to try and have a beer with every Aussie spectator in the building. It’s going to be good fun tonight”.
Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar presented Australian bowler Mitchell Starc with the man of the tournament award.
Michael Clarke paid tribute to New Zealand and its captain for an outstanding tournament.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” he said.
Wearing a black armband in recognition of Phillip Hughes, the young batsman who died at the SCG last November after being struck by a bouncer, Clarke said “I’ll wear it for every game I play for Australia”.
He dedicated the win to Hughes, “our little brother and our teammate”.
“We played this World Cup with 16 players,” he said, referring to Hughes. “I’ll make sure we drink two at a time tonight: one for Hughesy and one for us.”
Asked about who’ll next wear the No. 23 jersey, which Clarke inherited from Shane Warne, he joked “Maybe I’ll give it back to Warney”.
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