The mastermind plan of Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson as it all went to script in the Australia versus New Zealand game. I am sure that the planning when the draw came out and the game was scheduled, the Blackcaps would have been licking their lips. It has been a long time since Australia has won at Eden Park. (Scorecard | Highlights | Points Table)
Why is Eden Park such a fortress for the Kiwis those small boundaries, slowish wicket and an aggressive crowd which make for a cauldron atmosphere. Going into this match, the team with the moment in the tournament probably had a chance to nail their opposition and New Zealand had plenty going in. On the other hand Australia were struggling for just a little something, even though all the batsmen looked ok they were just missing a bit of time in the middle and not in the nets.
With New Zealand playing confidently in their three round games prior, they would have hoped the win was a little easier than it ended up. Their bowlers laid the foundation along with some good captaincy to bring the Australians undone.
Even though Australia got off to a very handy start, the introduction of Daniel Vettori changed the game on its ear. Vettori only picked up two wickets, the Aussies found it difficult to score off him which built pressure at both ends. Trent Boult starred for the Kiwis with magnificent figures where he ripped the middle order apart and put NZ in the driving seat. During this period, Australia lost eight for 26. Brad Haddin and Pat Cummins had to hold on for the last wicket to give Australia something to bowl at. (Boult Proud of His Five Wickets)
In my opinion, the key to Australia's success in trying to defend 151 was to be able to take early wickets. Unfortunately, the script was perfect for someone like Brendon McCullum to play the way he plays with such an aggressive nature up front, like no other batsman in the world at the moment. He set the tone against both Mitchells by hitting the first ball he faced against them for sixes. (McCullum in Awe of Boult and Starc)
Kane Williamson, arguably one of the most technically correct batsman in world cricket for a guy that's only 24, showed maturity beyond his years and yesterday did that again. In the end he saw New Zealand home by hitting a six down the ground to complete the fairytale ending in a historic match that will be talked about for years to come. (Bring on the Beer, Says McCullum)
Defending a small total, Australia's bowlers had nothing to lose and they were backed by the aggressive captaincy of Michael Clarke to find wickets. Mitchell Starc was absolutely brilliant, he just loves playing with this white cricket ball. He has already claimed an ODI hat-trick and in this match was on two chances to get another. His figures of six for 28 will also be remembered in this thrilling match.
Mitch Johnson coped a little stick but it was a great spectacle seeing McCullum and Johnson go head to head. (Williamson, Boult Delighted to be Last-Men Standing)
In my previous column leading into this match, I thought that the coaching staff of Australia were very wary of this game. Especially after the washed out game against Bangladesh, which only yielded a single point, leaving Australia precariously poised on three points after three matches.
On the other hand, New Zealand are looking very comfortable on eight points after four matches. New Zealand will get a week off before they play Afghanistan in Napier and then they will play Bangladesh in Hamilton. Australia will be looking to get some moment in this tournament.
The past two weeks, I am sure, has been frustrating for the Aussies but this will be a good wake up call for them. It will be interesting to see if they knuckle down as they just can't afford to have any more hiccups, with Afghanistan next then a real tough game at the SCG against Sri Lanka on the March 8.
This could be a real distraction for them now, but I am sure this will be heavily talked about within the group. The blend of experience and youth is just about perfect in the Kiwis outfit and this will be really important for the senior the control the next little period for the Kiwis.
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