Oram blitz in vain

Australia have edged out New Zealand in a high scoring thriller at Perth.

Ricky Ponting’s men put an end to the rotations as they played their first XI, while New Zealand welcomed Lou Vincent and Kyle Mills back into the team. Australia won the toss and chose to bat.

As if bowling on this belter was not hard enough for New Zealand, they chose to put in their worst fielding performance of the series. First, Daniel Vettori dropped Matt Hayden off Mark Gillespie while he was still on 0.

The openers never really got going though, and Adam Gilchrist was soon caught by Jeetan Patel off Kyle Mills for
13, with the score on 28. That was as good as it gor for the Kiwis.

Ricky Ponting joined Hayden at the crease, and Australia never looked back. While Ponting looked his usual
imperious self, Hayden used up more than his fair share of luck, baeing dropped two more times, in addition to playing a host of streaky shots. It was far from being his best
innings, but the runs still kept coming, and all the Kiwi bowlers were being torn apart. 200 runs later, the breakthrough finally came, Hayden being bowled by Vettori for 117.

With 12 overs to go, the batsman had license to swing, and it was in this fashion that Michael Clarke perished for 7, picking out the sub Hamish Marshell in the deep off Patel,
with the score on 254.

Andrew Symonds then joined Ponting in a potentially lethal partnership, but Ponting was soon on his way, caught by Fulton of McMillan after yet another brilliant innings, this time amounting to 111. The score was 275 when Mike Hussey joined Symonds at the crease, but the partnership was short-lived, with Symonds falling in the next over, bowled by a perfect yorker from Mark Gillespie.

At 293, Cameron White joined Hussey, and the fireworks started. The pair smashed 50 runs off the last four overs, leaving New Zealand a near impossible 343 to chase. Vettori was once again the most impressive bowler, picking up 1/34 from his 10, while everyone else had gone for above 6 runs an over.

The Kiwis got off to a steady if unspectacular start, the opening pair of Vincent and Stephen Fleming putting on 47 before Fleming was caught by Gilchrist off McGrath. Peter Fulton then joined Vincent and they built another steady partnership, before Fulton was brilliantly caught by Hayden in the slips off Mitchell Johnson, with the score on 107
after 18.3 overs.

Ross Taylor then joined Vincent and the run-rate improved, but their partnership came to a cruel end when Vincent was given out LBW to Clarke, despite the ball touching his gloves. With the score on 142 Craig McMillan entered the fray, but he was gone soon after, brilliantly run out by Johnson for 5, with the score on 150.

Enter Jacob Oram. What seemed like a lost cause was soon turned into a possibility, with Oram flaying the bowling around with consummate ease. He lost Taylor with the score on 198 though, Clarke bowling him around his legs for 39.

Brendon McCullum then joined Oram, with New Zealand needing a highly unlikely 145 from 88 balls. No-one told Oram though, as he continued to effortlessly smash the ball around to all corners. The pair took the score to 256 after 42 overs, when the rain came down. The match had been dramatically brought back to life, with New Zealand needing 88 from the final eight overs.

Thankfully for them, the rain eased up and they were able to bat out the 50. The pair were relentless, hitting a big shot at regular intervals, just when it looked like the target was getting out of reach.

They entered the last over needing an unlikely 25, but Oram and McCullum were in the kind of form that ensures that no-one was leaving the ground.

Nathan Bracken had the unenviable task of bowling it, and he soon saw the second ball flying into the stands.

In the end Australia’s score proved to be just one bridge too far though, with New Zealand ending up 335, Oram having made an incredible 101 off 72 balls, including four four’s and six sixes. Brett Lee and Michael Clarke were the only bowlers who managed an economy of less than 6.

New Zealand may not have gained anything on the points table, but what they will know after this performance is that it will take a massive dip in form to prevent them from reaching the final at England’s expense. Australia, meanwhile, know that they are in for a fight the next time these two sides meet.

Australia 343-5
Matthew Hayden 117, Ricky Ponting 111
Craig McMillan 1-26, Daniel Vettori 1-34

Australia won by 8 runs

New Zealand 335-5
Jacob Oram 101*, Lou Vincent 66, Brendon McCullum 46*
Michael Clarke 2-48, Mitchell Johnson 1-48

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