Valiant Vettori’s 79 in vain

Australia have now finally clinched a spot in the final of the Champion’s Trophy. Judging by their performances so far, they certainly deserve to be there and it was another top performance today to beat New Zealand by 34 runs.

The pitch was once again difficult to score runs on, but Australia managed to reach 240. New Zealand made early inroads, removing Gilchrist and Watson for three and zero respectively. The middle order proved much more resilient though.

Ponting and Martyn made the initial recovery, with a solid partnership of 66. It was fairly tough going, Martyn made 26 from 54 balls before he was lbw to Vettori, while Ponting found he was able to open up a lot more after the wicket. He played some pleasing shots, supported by Mike Hussey coming in at five, but was Kyle Mills’ third wicket of the day. He added Ponting’s scalp to those of the openers when the skipper mistimed a pull to mid-on.

The wicket did little to halt Australia’s progress. Enter Andrew Symonds, who took little time to get stuck into Vettori. A straight six and four over midwicket set the tone for Symonds’ run a ball 58. He was supported initally by Mike Hussey, but after he was caught for 35 the lower order failed to add many more.

Once Symonds had gone, Australia’s tail managed to get them to 240. They may have been disappointed with this, especially as they scored a measly 52 runs in the final 10. It would prove sufficient though.

With two of the world’s best ODI bowlers in Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee taking the new ball, New Zealand were cautious to start with, seeing of the new ball. They looked to be going well, until the top order was blown away after the fifth over.

McGrath and Lee seemed to have stepped up a gear, both producing beauties to take the first two wickets, those of Lou Vincent and Nathan Astle. Marshall was next to go, caught behind off McGrath. With Lee out the attack, Nathan Bracken got in on the act with the wickets of Fleming and McCullum. McGrath also added Peter Fulton to his tally, as he left one which crashed into off stump.

New Zealand had now been reduced to 34-6. The game looked to be all but Australia’s. New Zealand still had some fight though, in Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori, both capable batsmen. Taking advantage of a rare drop from Hussey, and with batting become slighly easier they put together 103.

They played much more competently than the top order had done, finding gaps in the field and being able to handle Australia’s pace attack. Both played in their typical styles, Oram clipping it through the leg side off the front foot, while Vettori scored a lot of runs behind square on the off side.

As they both settled fully at the wicket, they were also able to score a good rate. They kept the required run rate close to a run a ball, prompting Ponting to turn to his the spin of Symonds. The Queenslander soon made the breakthrough; Oram was beaten by the spin coming down the wicket and stumped by Gilchrist.

Even with Oram gone, the partnership had instilled hope into the New Zealanders. Hoping for a victory reminiscent of the 2004 final, Vettori used his feet smartly to manoeuvre the ball away from the packed off-side but was eventually bowled off his pads for 79. Also gone was James Franklin, caught behind off Watson.

With New Zealand’s faint hopes now all but dashed, Mills and Bond added a quick 25 for the last wicket before Brett Lee return to secure Australia’s final spot.

Australia 240 all out
Ricky Ponting 58, Andrew Symonds 58
Kyle Mills 4-38

New Zealand 206 all out
Daniel Vettori 79, Jacob Oram 43
Glenn McGrath 3-22, Brett Lee 2-31

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