Saturday 17 March 2018 / 09:31 PM


An improved bowling display couldn’t save the Black Caps from a demoralising 117-run loss at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as Australia wrapped up a comprehensive 3-0 ODI series success in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

Chasing a target of 265, this was New Zealand’s best chance of the series to secure a victory, but regular wickets saw Mike Hesson’s men bowled out for just 148 in the 37th over in their first outing at the MCG since last year’s World Cup final defeat.

David Warner underpinned the hosts’ innings with a stunning 156 off 128 balls – his second straight century and seventh of 2016 in the format – as the majority of his teammates were strangled by the tight Black Caps bowling.

Unlike his superb knock in Canberra, where he had plenty of support, the left-hander’s knock was so much more important this time round.

It was, quite simply, a blistering knock by Warner, but for large parts it was another innings of conserved responsibility before blasting at the end. Warner almost lasted the entire innings, run out on the very last ball.

Scoring a lot more singles than what you’d expect from someone with his power, Warner started slow, but for the second match in a row, timed his innings perfectly to construct a score that would put his side in a good position at the halfway point in the match.

He finished with customary tallies of 13 fours and four sixes.

Australia were tettering on 4/73 at one point, but Warner put his head down and batted his way to another century. The only other batsman for Australia to not be dismissed for an entire innings in one-day cricket was Damian Martyn, ironically, against New Zealand back in 2000.

Warner was one ball away from becoming the second.

It was Warner’s 11th ODI century, but more importantly, he had put Australia’s innings back on track after having to play the lead role yet again. Following the century celebrations, Warner looked to make New Zealand pay, and he put the bowlers to the sword with some big sixes.

With the batsmen falling around him, Warner was forced to play another conservative innings early on. Batting with a clear, calm head, Warner took advantage of the bad balls and picked the singles when they were available.

But again, New Zealand can look back on Warner’s innings and think about a chance let go. Warner was dropped in the deep by Henry Nicholls, and while it was a tough chance, it was one that could have turned the innings firmly in New Zealand’s favour, for the third time in as many matches.

Warner’s innings continued his record as top run-scorer in ODI cricket this year, but Warner wasn’t the only star of the show.

After struggling to get settled, Travis Head calmed himself and realised the time he had ahead in the innings. The middle-order batsman put his head down and tried to find runs whichever way he could. Both Warner and Head were going at a strike rate of less than 100 – unusual for their style – but the runs eventually began to flow.

The pair rebuilt Australia’s innings and put on a stand of over 100 runs together before Head was finally dismissed by Mitch Santner for 37.

Trent Boult had gave New Zealand the perfect start, taking two early wickets, including Australian captain Steve Smith for a seven-ball duck, and finished with 3/49.

Young paceman Lockie Ferguson tested the Australian batsmen, regularly bowling at over 150kph.

Overall, the big difference for New Zealand was their commitment in the field early on. Many boundaries were cut off with desperate dives at point, and for one of the first times in the series, the bowling lines were delivered to take advantage of particular field sets.

But that solid platform was foiled by a dismal batting display.

Tom Latham couldn’t kick on from a good start that had people thinking he may be on his way to a big score. The left-handed opener made it to 28 in short time before getting out to Pat Cummins. Martin Guptill top-scored for the Kiwis with 34 before a complete capitulation that saw the last eight wickets fall for just 68 runs.

Mitchell Starc was the pick of the bowlers with 3/34 from 10 overs, while Cummins, James Faulkner and Travis Head all nabbed two wickets each.

But the highlight of the innings was Smith’s catch to dismiss Boult, an absolute screamer that ended the match and capped a brilliant series for the skipper.

[YouTube – you tuber]

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Michael Pulman

Based in Hamilton (NZ), Michael is Commentary Box Sports' rugby union and cricket expert

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