Australia Wins Chappell-Hadlee

Australia thrashed New Zealand by 114 runs to regain the Chappell-Hadlee trophy in Hobart today, thanks largely to Ricky Ponting’s 134 not out.

Asked to bat first by New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, Australia posted a competitive 282 for 5 from its 50 overs, on a pitch which seemed to be a little two-paced.

In reply, New Zealand never recovered from a diabolical start which saw them languishing at 88 for 7 before a determined Scott Styris put a small measure of respectability into the Black Caps final score of 168 all out.

With Adam Gilchrist rested, Michael Clarke opened for Australia with Matthew Hayden. It was not, however, to prove a productive partnership with Clarke top edging an attempted pull shot back to bowler Mark Gillespie for only seven.

Thereafter, Hayden and Ricky Ponting carried the score through to the 12th over, when Hayden also fell to a top-edged pull shot, this time off the excellent Jacob Oram. Oram’s initial spell was tailor-made for the conditions. When he removed Mike Hussey for nine in the 20th over, Australia was teetering at 87 for 3 and by the end of his eighth over he had the impeccable figures of two for 18.

It was apparent to all watching that the pitch was a little two-paced. For this reason, the Ponting partnership with Andrew Symonds was always going to be a seminal moment in this match. These two players are currently ranked one and two as ODI batsmen, so New Zealand knew that if they could break the partnership early they would go a long way to winning the game.

Unfortunately it was not to be, as the batsmen, although initially more cautious than normal slowly got on top. Their partnership was worth 114 ? precisely the eventual winning margin. Symonds eventually fell for a well-made 52, lbw to Kyle Mills.

Ponting, meanwhile, marched on. Prior to today, his highest ODI score in his home state was 37, and plainly he wanted to set the record straight. He finished the innings on 134 not out from 133 balls, and although it was not his most fluent innings, it clearly meant a great deal to him, based upon his reaction upon reaching his hundred.

With useful contributions from Brad Haddin and James Hopes, the skipper saw Australia through to a very competitive total. Oram and Vettori were easily the best of New Zealand’s bowlers, however, one wonders why more use was not made of Scott Styris who bowled four economical overs for only 18 runs.

As has become a familiar pattern in this series, New Zealand’s reply got off to a disastrous start. McCullum edged the fifth ball of Lee’s second over to Haddin, once again deceived by a slower ball pitched wide outside the off stump. Before long it was seven for two, with Jamie How also edging Lee to Haddin for two from 15 balls faced.

Matthew Sinclair and Styris then set about a rescue mission, however, their efforts were cut short with the introduction of Hopes, who trapped Sinclair lbw with his first ball for a promising 14. It was soon 60 for four when Taylor fell to Tait, then 72 for 5 when Oram picked out Lee from Hopes. It was a superb effort from Lee, diving forward at backward square leg to take a crucial wicket.

With the score on 88, there came a moment of some controversy when Hopkins was caught by Clarke from Hogg’s bowling for nine. As always seems to be the case, replays cast doubt on the catch, which Clarke claimed low in front of him. In fairness to the fielder, neither umpire saw fit to refer the catch, so they must have had a reasonable view and deemed it fairly caught. Things only got worse for the Black Caps when Vettori was out caught behind to Hogg in the same over, without troubling the scorers.

Through the disarray of the New Zealand innings, Styris stood firm. He is a fine one day cricketer and it was fitting that a player of his calibre should be the lone New Zealand batsman to shine on this occasion. He eventually fell, bowled by Lee for a wonderfully well-compiled 73 from 78 balls faced. On a pitch which was a little up and down, Styris timed the ball brilliantly. The crispness of his stroke-play was a stark contrast to the efforts of his team mates, the next best of whom was Gillespie, who was last man out for a slog-errific 24 from as many balls.

So Australia gained revenge for last season’s loss in New Zealand. They did so in the most emphatic style, with their captain named both man of the match and, deservedly, man of the series. Throughout the series, the difference between the two sides was the ability of Australia’s bowlers to consistently claim New Zealand wickets. And to keep doing it. With Lee, Bracken and Tait all bowling superbly, the winning of this series was always going to be a tough ask for the Black Caps. Recent retirements and injuries to key personnel rendered them ill-equipped to take on the world champions, who were still smarting from last year’s result. It is to be hoped that they can recapture some form and confidence against Bangladesh before taking on England at home.

The series win capped off a big week for Ponting. Two centuries, a series win, man of the series and his 33rd birthday all in the space of six days. Tonight his pooch, First Innings, is the favourite in Tasmania?s richest greyhound race at Elwick.

The way things are going, you wouldn’t bet against it.

Australia 282/6 (50)
Ponting 134* (133)
Oram 2/34

New Zealand 168/10
Styris 73(78)
Lee 3/46

Australia won by 114 runs and won the series 2-0
Man of the match: R Ponting (Australia)
Man of the Series: R Ponting (Australia)

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