Australia too fast for New Zealand
Australia’s pace trio set up a convincing victory over trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand at Nagpur in both sides’ second World Cup Group A fixture.
Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait reduced the Black Caps to 73 for six and a lower-order order recovery could not prevent them being dismissed for 206 inside 46 overs.
Johnson and Tait were statistically outstanding with 4-33 and 3-35 respectively, but Brett Lee was also impressive, although he only had one wicket to show for his efforts.
Shane Watson and Brad Haddin put Australia on course for victory with a blistering opening partnership of 133 in 18 overs and, despite a slight wobble, Michael Clarke and Cameron White completed the task with seven wickets and 16 overs to spare.
The result leaves the three-time defending champions top of a fledgling Group A with two wins from two and New Zealand fourth thanks to their 10-wicket triumph over Kenya.
Following the devastating earthquake in Christchurch this week, both sides observed a minute’s silence before the game and between innings - the latter seeing the players embracing alternately in a circle.
Put in to bat, the Black Caps lost both openers inside the first powerplay.
Brendon McCullum carved Tait to third man and Martin Guptill, who took 19 balls to get off the mark, was bowled by a back-of-a-length delivery from Watson that kept low.
Johnson struck twice in the 14th over as Jessie Ryder, who made 25, and James Franklin were caught behind playing away from their bodies.
Scott Styris followed Franklin for nought in the next over, edging an ugly slash off Tait behind, and the same bowler’s rapid yorker did for Ross Taylor to leave New Zealand six down after 17 overs.
Jamie How and Nathan McCullum mounted a patient recovery until leg-spinner Steven Smith trapped the former in front for 22 despite a review.
McCullum continued the fightback in the company of Vettori and brought up his fifty from 72 balls.
But a meaningful partnership eluded the Black Caps again as McCullum’s review could not prevent him departing lbw to Johnson for 52.
The batting powerplay raised hopes of a late surge before the last two wickets fell in consecutive balls: Vettori edged an attempted pull off Lee behind to depart for 44 from 43 deliveries and Tim Southee skied Johnson.
In reply, Watson and Haddin punished wayward bowling with a flurry of boundaries, their century stand coming in 14 overs. Haddin was the first to breach 50, from 39 balls, before Watson from 52.
Hamish Bennett gave New Zealand faint hope by removing both in three balls, Haddin comically top-edging a slow bouncer to deep midwicket on 55 and Watson playing on via an ugly cross-batted swipe for 62.
Ricky Ponting and Clarke restored calm, although Brendon McCullum brilliantly stumped the former off a leg-side wide from Southee.
Clarke and White rattled off the remaining 40 runs in 44 balls to end unbeaten on 24 and 22 respectively.
Ponting said: “Johnson was outstanding today. Brett has been bowling well for over three months now. Tait has been impressive since the time he returned to the side.
“We said right at the start of the tournament, if our fast bowlers bowl as well as they can, it can't matter who we play.
“They could have actually been better with the new ball. The fact that they took wickets early meant I did not have to fall back on Watson through the day.”