McGrath helps Aussies to final
Glenn McGrath showed ominous signs of his best to help book Australia’s maiden ICC Champions Trophy final appearance.
Veteran paceman McGrath’s spell of 3-22 earned him the man-of-the-match award in the 34-run win over New Zealand in the semi-final clash in Mohali.
The 36-year-old only recently returned to action after a lengthy lay-off but answered doubts about his effectiveness three weeks shy of the first Ashes Test with a new-ball masterclass.
Although the most pressing engagement is Sunday’s showpiece in Mumbai, there was no doubt Brisbane was at the forefront of McGrath’s mind when he said: “I am improving in every game. That is what I wanted to achieve on this tour especially and at the moment I am not too far away from 100%.”
Thecontest was decided inside 15 overs of the chase as the Black Caps fumbled their way to 35 for six under the floodlights - a century stand between Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram ensured a lengthy wait for closure.
They only prospered, however, once McGrath, who beat the bat time and again, had finished his 10 overs.
“On that sort of wicket we knew it would do something with the new ball and thought it might do more at night time,” said Australia captain Ricky Ponting. “That is exactly what happened. Glenn put the ball in the right area and bowled beautifully.”
New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was left to rue further inadequacy at the head of the innings.
“A score of 240 was there or thereabouts but we weren’t good enough with the bat against some pretty good bowling,” said Fleming.
“You could see the quality of the guys we are developing down the order but the top of the order is a concern and has been all tournament.
“Fighting is good but you have to be more skilled and that is what we lacked at the top. We weren’t able to deal with the ball that swung. Our top-order batting has been exposed throughout.
“Dan and Jacob showed that by staying in you could make an opportunity. But to beat Australia you have to have your backyard completely in order.”
It will be up to holders West Indies or South Africa to do so now in the final.
“We have been very excited about our chances this time around, to be in a final is one step further than we have ever been so we will give ourselves a good chance when we get to Mumbai,” Ponting said.