Australia beat New Zealand by 5 Runs in World Cup Epic

Australia clung on to win off the final ball against New Zealand in the highest-scoring match in the history of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Australia beat New Zealand by 5 Runs in World Cup Epic
Australia beat New Zealand by 5 Runs in World Cup Epic

Australia clung on to win off the final ball against New Zealand in the highest-scoring match in the history of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.

Set an improbable 389 to win, New Zealand were inspired by Rachin Ravindra’s outstanding century to set up a nail-biting finish.

Jimmy Neesham’s extraordinary 58 from 39 balls took them to the cusp of an extraordinary comeback victory, only for a brilliant run out to remove Neesham off the penultimate ball of the innings.

And Mitchell Starc held his nerve with six required off the last ball, denying number eleven Lockie Ferguson as the Black Caps ended on 383/9 and Australia won a classic by just five runs.

Runs flowed in an unusual first innings for Australia, as they posted 388 at the picturesque ground in the foothills of the Himalayas.

A remarkable opening partnership between David Warner (81 from 65) and the returning Travis Head (109 from 67) got Pat Cummins’ side off to a blistering start.

Head’s first appearance of the tournament was a memorable one, as he slammed 17 boundaries, including seven maximums, in his brilliant century.

But, with the opening pair having put on 175 in just 19 overs, Australia struggled to keep their foot to the floor through the middle overs.

Mitchell Marsh (36 from 51 and Marnus Labuschagne (18 from 26) got particularly bogged down, with Glenn Phillips bowling superbly for 3/37 off ten overs, stepping up at just the right time for his team when Lockie Ferguson was forced off with an injury early in his spell.

Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis and Pat Cummins exploded through the death overs to boost Australia’s score, but their 388 could have been even higher, with New Zealand taking four wickets for just 1 run in the last two overs to bowl their neighbours out for 388.

But that 388 proved just enough on the night, as Dharamsala was treated to an all-time epic.

Devon Conway and Will Young provided the perfect start to the Black Caps in a steep chase, hitting a flurry of boundaries to help New Zealand reach 50 in merely 31 balls.

However, Australia soon had their first breakthrough, when Conway took on a short delivery from Josh Hazlewood and tried to angle it behind him, with Mitchell Starc taking a stunning grab towards his right and sending the batter back.

The Hazlewood-Starc combination struck once more in the first Powerplay. This time, it was Conway's partner, Young who had to depart to another sharp Starc catch.

Rachin Ravindra and Daryl Mitchell then took control for the Kiwis and kept the chase on track. Mitchell, in particular, was quite aggressive and helped himself to yet another good score in Dharamsala. His 54 included six fours and a six, and his brisk knock came to an end when he holed an Adam Zampa delivery to long-on, where Starc took his third catch of the innings.

Ravindra continued from the other end, picking up pace and hitting some big shots after the mid-innings mark.

Even though New Zealand lost skipper Tom Latham for merely 21, Ravindra's attacking strokeplay kept the scoring rate up.

And the youngster’s stunning tournament continued apace as he brought up another century – a knock that was cheered to the rafters by a packed crowd in Dharamsala.

The removal of the dangerous Glenn Phillips was followed by an end to Ravindra’s stunning 89-ball 116, with captain Cummins getting the key wicket to put his team on top.

But Neesham very nearly pulled off a miracle for New Zealand, with Australia’s nerves shredded in a nail-biting finish.

Australia’s huge first-innings effort

Earlier, Head scored 109 from just 67 deliveries at the top of the order, in what was his first match of the tournament, as Australia put their trans-Tasman rivals to the sword by posting 388 in good batting conditions.

Australia were also helped by contributions at the death from Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis, and Pat Cummins, whose quickfire knocks helped the side rack up 96 runs in the final powerplay.

A number of missed chances punctuated the New Zealand fielding effort, although Trent Boult did them something to cheer about late in the innings, with a three-wicket penultimate over.

Returning to the Australia side after recovering from a fractured hand, Head combined with fellow opener David Warner (81 from 65 balls) as Australia put on 175 for the opening wicket on their way to the massive total.

Head and Warner punished anything loose from the usually reliable Kiwi bowlers and smashed 10 sixes within the first Powerplay alone as they amassed 118 without loss to take control of the contest.

It took some clever bowling from Trent Boult (3/77) and the outstanding Glenn Phillips (3/37) to ensure Australia did not post an even bigger total, with the Kiwis also hurt by the absence of tearaway quick Lockie Ferguson.

Ferguson conceded 38 overs through three expensive overs, but was taken from the field after his spell after he experienced pain in his right Achilles.

It meant the likes of Rachin Ravindra (0/56) and Jimmy Neesham (1/32) had to fill the void with the ball, and the likes of Maxwell (41), Inglis (38) and Cummins (37) took advantage by landing some lofty late blows to help Australia get close to 400.

But Boult’s three-wicket over helped wrap the innings up, with those runs proving quite significant in a nervy finish to the game a few hours later.

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