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Matthew Hayden scored his third hundred of the World Cup as Australia scored a 215-run victory over New Zealand in their concluding Super Eights match of the World Cup in Grenada on Friday.
After posting 348 for 6, the defending champions bowled out New Zealand for 133 to maintain their unbeaten run and also record the biggest World Cup victory margin between two Test teams, eclipsing England's 202-run victory over India in a 60 overs match in 1975.
Hayden scored 103 from 100 balls, inclusive of ten fours and two sixes. It was his 10th One-Day International century and his fourth against New Zealand.
Captain Ricky Ponting scored 66 and Shane Watson, back in the team after missing the last three games because of a calf strain, hit an unbeaten 65 off 32 balls.
Shaun Tait (3 for 32 from 6 overs) and Brad Hog (4 for 29 from 6.5) were the pick of the Australian bowlers.
You hit, we'll hit further, faster - that has pretty much been the template of recent Australia versus New Zealand encounters for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.
The first half of the largely inconsequential Super Eight encounter between the two sides at the National Stadium in Grenada continued the trend - Australia came out hitting, and kept hitting, pulverizing the opposition bowlers with remorseless, relentless intent.
Think pulverizing, and you think Mathew Hayden. His game has always been about brute power and supreme, almost arrogant, confidence, but in this World Cup the left-handed opener, who not so long ago did not figure in Australia's one day plans, appears to have taken that game a few notches higher.
During this tournament Hayden has resembled a baseball hitter in a batting cage - he sets himself, all slit eyes and biceps and gum-mangling jaws, and he starts hitting and keeps hitting until some act of fate or chance removes him from the scene; he then comes out in the next game and does it all over again.
When Hayden got to his third century of the Cup, off 97 deliveries, in the 31st over, his record made remarkable reading: He had, in 8 visits to the crease, blasted 577 runs including 62 boundaries and 17 hits into the stands; he had three centuries and one fifty; his average read 96.66 and his strike rate, incredibly, read 108.20.
Those last two figures tell you why he has been the most influential player thus far - close to 100 runs each time he walks out to bat, and at a rate better than a run a ball, all this from the opening slot.
New Zealand, which dropped Shane Bond - apparently to some unspecified `sickness', of the kind that hit Lasith Malinga and Muthaiah Muralitharan ahead of the Oz-Lanka game probably - found that in his absence, the other seamers didn't have the stomach to take on the cricketing version of `The Hulk'.
There was some early joy when James Franklin began his bowling with a short, wide delivery outside off and Adam Gilchrist sliced it straight to Mark Gillespie at third man (1/2; 7/1).
Ricky Ponting joined Hayden, and the pair got stuck in; what followed was murderous. It got so bloody out there, that Stephen Fleming was compelled to bring Daniel Vettori on as early as the 10th over in an effort to stanch the bleeding. By then, Franklin had gone 4-0-38-1; his partner Michael Mason was economical in comparison, giving away 27 in four; at the end of 10 overs Hayden and Ponting had biffed 11 fours.
There was a brief period of sanity, with Fleming delaying the power play and using Vettori and Styris to try and stem the run glut; a mere 22 runs came between overs 11 and 15. The two Aussie batsmen didn't seem to mind too much - they kept ticking the runs over, pushing Fleming closer to the edge in terms of when he could exercise his power play, and though clearly biding their time, both batsmen got to their 50s, off 53 balls each.
Just when it seemed as if the Aussies would completely take the game away, Ponting fell, against the run of play. He skipped down the track, as he had done so effectively throughout this knock, to Jeeten Patel, took the ball on the half volley from line of off and middle, and looked to whip over midwicket. He didn't hit the ball as well as he would have liked, though - and Taylor, at midwicket, timed his jump well to hold (66/70; 144/2).
Fleming immediately opted for the second power play, between overs 24-28 - and watched, hands on hips, as that period bled 42 runs with Hayden slipping back up the gears and Michael Clarke starting off the blocks as if he were rocket-propelled.
It really was an astonishing batting display - irresistible force at one end, effortless grace at the other. Hayden biffed and smashed; Clarke drove and flicked. Mark Gillespie, whose return to the ranks was supposed to give Bond some much needed support, went for 36 in four overs. Fleming whistled up Vettori again, in the 28th over, to try and keep the damage down; Hayden came down the track and smoked one over mid off; to the next ball he walked out again, and blasted the ball between the bowler and mid off; he again walked out to the next, backing away a bit to take one from middle stump line and bludgeon it over the bowler's head.
And by way of indicating that he didn't need power plays to score at speed, he took on Styris in the 29th, leaning his weight back, twisting at the hip and hitting with every muscle in his body, to power the ball high, very high over wide long on.
His 100 seemed a mere punctuation mark to an innings that threatened spectators and records alike, but an over after getting to the landmark, he fell. Styris bowled his usual off cutter, taking the pace off it a notch, Hayden slogged, the ball went high in the direction of long on and Styris spun around, raced back with the ball coming over his shoulder, ran a long way and held, just as it was dropping to ground (103/100; 216/3).
At the other end, Clarke was batting like the boy wonder he is reputed to be, fluent against spin and pace alike - though in the Hayden blitz, you didn't really notice him. Fleming brought Franklin back in the 36th over and Clarke went into over drive - the first ball was, too full looking to york, was driven through mid off; the next was again too full, this time on leg, and Clarke eased it through midwicket. And then, he got out in the most bizarre way possible.
Even as Franklin delivered the third ball of the over - a slower one on the stumps - Clarke backed away. From that point on, you couldn't quite tell what happened: it was a totally innocuous delivery, doing nothing in the air or off the wicket; it was pitched well in the hitting zone. The best explanation is that Clarke had so many hitting options - he could have smashed square through point, moved into the ball and carved over cover; squared up a bit and blasted into the straight field - that he just couldn't make up his mind. He stood there, bat in the air, and watched while the ball gently travelled the length of the batting crease and hit the stumps (49/46; 233/4).
Michael Hussey, who has had a fairly ordinary World Cup thus far, and Andrew Symonds began ticking them over with good placement and swift running, seemingly setting themselves up for the big assault at the death. At the 40 over mark, the set-up was perfect: 250-plus on the board, two very good late overs batsmen in the middle, and a huge assault on the cards.
And then the plot went awry - Symonds charged the first ball of the 41st, from Jeeten Patel (who, for the second time this Cup, was more impressive even than Vettori), realized it was outside off and going further away but slogged at it anyway, and off the toe of the bat, hit it high in the air for Mason, getting under it in the straight field, to hold a superbly judged catch (11/16; 257/4).
Patel and Vettori did well during the first half of the slog, giving away a mere 25 runs in the overs 41-45. Patel was particularly effective, his three overs going for 13 while Vettori went 12 in two. The problem for Fleming was both were bowled out at that point (Vettori 0/60; Patel 2/48), and he had to turn to his seamers for the final five overs of the innings; interestingly, having kept McMillan away from the bowling crease all day, Fleming brought him on for the 47th over.
Gillespie remained the weak link; Shane Watson played an extraordinary shot off the quick bowler in the 48th, when he shimmied just a bit inside his crease to make room, then went low into a cover drive that took the ball, at head height, across the ground and over the boundary for an unusual six; he followed that up with a lap sweep, then a slog through midwicket off a slow full toss, and ended the over by smearing an attempted yorker high over the straight sightscreen for another six. having given away 8 in the 46th, Gillespie went for 24 in the 48th and the hard work of the two spinners had been undone in a hurry.
Hussey, who was doing the chip and run bit while Watson went nuts (his 50 came off 28 balls, with four fours and two sixes), slog-swept a Franklin slower ball in the final over for Styris, running in from deep fine, to hold another skier (37/44; 334/6).
The shot allowed the batsmen to cross; Watson promptly flat-batted Franklin over long on for six more; he finished off the innings with a - wait for this - square drive over point for one final six, to power Australia to 348/6 in the allotted 50 overs. The last five overs produced 64 runs, and that tells the story.
Fleming led well - with a lesser captain, Australia having gotten to 100 in the 16th and 200 in the 30th over could have been looking at 375-plus; on the day, though, he was let down by his seamers, none of whom could bowl with a modicum of control, let alone penetration. Mason, having gone for 27 in three overs, never bowled again; Franklin went for 74 in 8, and none of his three wickets was earned by good bowling; Gillespie went 67 off just six - figures that should worry the Kiwis going into the death games.
The Kiwis in the recent past successfully hunted down 350-plus scores - but Australia is back to full strength in the bowling, and should be odds on to defend this score.
Progression: 1-50 overs
5 overs: 32/1 @ 6.40 (Hayden 15/14; Ponting 14/16)
10 overs: 77/1 @ 7.70 (Hayden 38/35; Ponting 31/29)
15 overs: 99/1 @ 6.60 (Hayden 45/48; Ponting 46/46)
20 overs: 127/1 @ 6.35 (Hayden 59/64; Ponting 58/60)
25 overs: 155/2 @ 6.20 (Hayden 75/79; Clarke 4/5)
30 overs: 206/2 @ 6.86 (Hayden 99/94; Clarke 29/22)
35 overs: 220/3 @ 6.42 (Hussey 2/3; Clarke 41/43)
40 overs: 257/4 @ 6.42 (Hussey 14/15; Symonds 11/15)
45 overs: 282/5 @ 6.26 (Hussey 27/32; Watson 11/13)
50 overs: 348/6 @ 6.96 (Watson 65/32; Hogg 0/0).
New Zealand innings
In the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy one day series played out in early 2007, New Zealand chased thrice, and won three in three.
The first win was by 10 wickets; in the second game, the Kiwis chased 336 and made 340 for the loss of 5 wickets in the 49th over; in the third, the Kiwis hunted down 346, getting there with one wicket and three balls to spare.
At it wasn't as if Australia was bowling at half strength either - the series saw McGrath, Bracken, Tait, Johnson, Watson and Hogg line up for the Aussies - and yet, they were flattened under some fearless batting by their Antipodean rivals.
All of that is why, on a pitch where the bounce was even and there wasn't the faintest hint of seam movement, you could have backed the Kiwis to run Australia close in this game; maybe even pull off a win ahead of the death games.
That possibility vanished, like dew at daybreak, inside the first 15 overs of the chase; by that point, the Aussies had reduced New Zealand to 92/5 and it was, to rely on clich�, all over bar the shouting.
You cannot logically explain why a team that had twice hunted down 300-plus targets against pretty much this same bowling lineup should face any particular pressure here - more so in a game that has no bearing on the fortunes of either side.
But pressure was palpable, from the moment Stephen Fleming got a bum deal and was given out. The Kiwi skipper had signaled the charge with a lovely flick off his pads, over midwicket off Nathan Bracken, in the 3rd over; he greeted Tait in the fourth with a crashing four.
Tait bounced, Fleming swung into a front-foot pull and missed; the ball crashed into his arm and lobbed up for Ponting at second slip to hold. Aleem Dar, without a moment's hesitation, put his finger up - apparently he hadn't noticed that the bat wasn't anywhere near the ball (12/9; 21/1).
McGrath came on in the 6th over - and struck with his first ball. It was short, going nowhere, but Ross Taylor went for the pull and managed only to hit it straight to Hussey at midwicket (3/6; 29/2).
Scott Styris started off in the manner of the man in form, creaming crisp drives through cover and, once gloriously, on the up and square through point. The perfection of that shot forced a rare appreciative smile from McGrath. That smiled broadened an over later, when Styris charged him, heaving away for all he was worth, and bottom-edged the shot to Hayden at midwicket, well inside the circle (27/22; 77/3).
Shaun Tait then chipped in, knocking McMillan over before the hard-hitting middle order batsman could really get going. The ball was full, quick, landing on off and jagging in to middle; McMillan looked to play around his pads, was beaten for pace, and nailed in front of middle and leg (1/5; 80/4).
James Franklin was promoted to do some heavy hitting, but before he could do any real damage, Watson took him out with a lovely change-down in pace. Franklin drove, hit too early, and managed only to drag it off the inside edge onto the stumps (6/11; 89/5).
At the 15 over mark, there really was very little to chose between the two teams where run rate was concerned: Australia had made 99, the Kiwis had 92. The difference was in the wickets - five for the Kiwis, against just Gilchrist for the Aussies.
Brendan McCullum came out, tried to win it all in one over of Brad Hogg, and paid the price. He charged the first ball of the 20th over, and got lucky to get the pad, not bat, to Ponting at silly point. One ball later, the batsman slogged, and got the ball straight into the hands of Hussey at deep midwicket (7/16; 111/6).
Daniel Vettori, Brad Hogg, sweep at a flighted ball, caught on the line at backward square leg, number 7 down - by then, it was almost ridiculously easy (4/4; 117/7).
Next up, Gillespie - and Hogg did him with a googly; the batsman responded with, what else, a slog sweep that misfired, for McGrath to hold the ball at mid on (2/8; 127/8).
Next? Michael Mason. Shaun Tait. Straight ball, outside off, outside edge, Gilchrist holds, end of story (0/5; 133/9).
Peter Fulton had, all along, played with supreme confidence, untroubled by anything the Aussies threw at him. With last man Jeeten Patel at the other end, he figured on trying to make some more runs, aimed a paddle at Hogg, missed, and was bowled (62/72; 133 all out); the 215-run margin is the heaviest defeat the Kiwis have known in one day cricket.
It was a strangely apathetic performance, from a team known for its fighting qualities - known, too, for those qualities to be at full strength when up against the favorite enemy. And neither the pitch, nor the bowling, explained it - sure, the Aussies bowled well and fielded well, but then they always do; that alone hasn't made the Kiwis fold like a badly constructed house of cards.
You could stretch the imagination a bit and suggest that, first by omitting Bond, then with this performance, the Kiwis are trying to lull the Aussies into a false sense of security. The trouble though is, it could well be a true sense of security!
5 overs: 29/1 @ 5.80 (Taylor 3/5; Fulton 13/16); required rate 7.12
10 overs: 75/2 @ 7.50 (Fulton 29/28; Styris 26/19); required rate 6.85
15 overs: 92/5 @ 6.13 (Fulton 34/38; McCullum 2/3)
20 overs: 115/6 @ 5.75 (Fulton 48/52; Vettori 4/3)
25 overs: 133/9 @ 5.32 (Fulton 62/67; Patel 0/1)The Cup: Complete Coverage
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