The great champions have all come back from defeat but this Australian side did not have to do all that. They were the favourites from the very beginning of the tournament and kept playing like the best in the competition. In the end, like they have been great champions in every generation, Australia captured the coveted 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup for the fifth time after the most dominant force in cricket returned to the pinnacle in emphatic style with a forensic demolition of New Zealand by 7-wicket in front of a crowd of 93,013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
This is their fifth title after they won the World Cup in 1987, 1999, 2003 and 2007. They also became the second side after India to win a World Cup at home.
Australia had, earlier, lost to New Zealand in the Pool A league match of the World Cup, but skittled out for 183. Way back in the 1983 World Cup final against the mighty West Indies, India had also scored 183 and won the match by 43 runs. But New Zealand couldn’t do what India did with that score of 183. Australia rounded up the match with 101 balls to
spare. In front of the home crowd, they took a sweet revenge in the most important match of the tournament, the grand finale.
Captain Clarke retires from one-day cricket with his legacy intact but his team will charge on to the 2019 tournament with renewed belief in their ability to re-generate, adapt and rebound from the stiffest of challenges. Two years after their annus horribilis of 2013 and less than three months after the death of batsman Phillip Hughes, Australia resumed their dominion of world cricket with a ruthless seven-wicket triumph at MCG.
Black Caps’ hopes of trouncing their trans-Tasman big brothers and 2015 World Cup co-hosts in the latter’s backyard fizzled out as they were reduced to 39/3 in the 13th over. Grant Elliot (83) and Ross Taylor (40), however, sought to defy the odds with a 111-run stand for the fourth wicket.
But four-time World Cup champions Australia got the ascendancy eventually by bowling out their neighbours for a bare 183 in 45 overs.
The most dominant force all tournament Mitchell Starc stood up at the vital time to dismiss New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum in the opening over of the game.
It was a gripping moment that lifted the roof off a capacity MCG crowd and sparked a crippling Black Caps collapse, as the outclassed underdogs folded to be all out in the 45th over.
The player of the tournament Starc put the icing on a career-defining six weeks by extending his wicket-taking tally to a joint-high 22, which has come at an extraordinary average.
The 25-year-old was inspirational, but left-armed comrades Mitchell Starc and James Faulkner tore the heart out of a Grant Elliott-led New Zealand resistance to finish with three wickets apiece.
Admirably supported by inspiring fielding, Australia seamers Mitchell Starc (2-20), Mitchell Johnson (3-30), James Faulkner (3-36) and spinner Glenn Maxwell (1-37) were all over the Black Caps, who lost the final seven wickets for only 33 runs.
However, Kiwis hopes soared when Australia lost opener Aaron Finch (0) in the second over of the inning. The right-hander gave a return catch to left-arm pacer Trent Boult.
But opener David Warner scored a stroke-filled 45 in 46 deliveries to diminish the pressure on the home team. After he fell to Matt Henry With Australia 120 from home, it was fitting that Clarke would walk out to the ODI crease one last time to join who else but his heir to his throne, Smith in front of an all-time record 93,013 cricket fans at Melbourne’s coliseum.
The old master and the new star combined at the crease for a match-clinching 112-run partnership, as Australia chased down a small-fry target of 184 with 101 balls to spare.
Following last summer’s Ashes whitewash, the seven-wicket victory marks the latest history-making achievement for Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke’s side, as the retiring skipper bowed out on a memorable high with a magical 74 off 72 balls.
Steve Smith, the run-machine, iced his Bradman-like summer with an unbeaten 56 and the glory of hitting the winning runs.
It was a glorious sliding doors moment for an Australian team that under Smith have every chance of creating another World Cup dynasty in four years time.
The depth of the Australian team was such that their stand-in-captain George Bailey, who led the side six weeks ago in their opening game against England and made a fine 55, didn’t get a match after Clarke came into the team. Clarke also became a legend in Australian cricket by becoming the fourth captain of his national team to win a World Cup. His predecessor has two World Cups to his name.
There has been no mention of ODI retirement from Brad Haddin, but if this was to be his last outing in canary gold he took another spectacular one-handed grab at the MCG to add to his summer collection.
Haddin has flown under the radar this World Cup, but has been faultless at every turn.
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