Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Spirited Australia denies gallant New Zealand a record run-chase

By Sampad Oct28,2023
Australian wicketkeeper Josh Inglis run out New Zealand batsman James Neesham during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match at the HPCA Ground in Dharamshala on Saturday October 28, 2023.

Australian wicketkeeper Josh Inglis run out New Zealand batsman James Neesham during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match at the HPCA Ground in Dharamshala on Saturday October 28, 2023.
| Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

How often have the New Zealand cricketers won hearts instead of a close match? Once again, these genial giants proved gallant in pursuit of a seemingly uphill task and left the spirited Aussies triumphant by just five runs.

On a batting beauty, if New Zealand believed it could overhaul Australia’s 388, its optimism could not be faulted. With the ball coming nicely on to the bat, short boundaries encouraged the batters to clear the ropes.

After all, the Australian openers David Warner and Travis Head had shown the way. In the evening, following Rachin Ravindra’s century, James Neesham kept the Kiwis alive in the world-record chase till the last ball. Effectively, Neesham’s run out in attempting to complete a second run off the innings’ penultimate ball proved decisive.

Ravindra’s delightful shot-making on way to his second World Cup century left New Zealand eyeing 96 runs off 59 deliveries. However, once he holed out to deep extra-cover, Neesham took over and almost scripted a stunning win.

Earlier, truly eventful was Australia’s ride to 388, dotted with a record high of 20 sixes. A blistering 175-run start, including 144 in the first 13 overs, preceded an 18-over spin-dominated phase when only 92 runs came for four wickets. From the 40th over, a ‘second wind’ produced 108 runs off nine overs, followed by fall of the last four wickets, including three to pacer Trent Boult in the penultimate over, for one run.

Travis Head, making his World Cup debut after recovering from a fractured left-hand, blasted a 67-ball 109 to outpace in-form fellow left-hander David Warner who fell short by 19 runs. The duo smashed 11 boundaries and 10 sixes in the first 13 overs to leave New Zealand skipper Tom Latham wondering whether it was a wise decision to field first.

If Australia did not cross 400, New Zealand owed it to off-spinner Glenn Phillips, left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner and Boult. Introduced in the14th over, Phillips produced a spell of 10-0-37-3, scalping Head, Warner and Steve Smith. Santner sent back Mitchell Marsh and Marnus Labuschagne in successive overs to keep Australia at 279 for five in 39 overs.

With speedster Lockie Ferguson not available following an ankle-twist after bowling just three overs, Australia changed gears. With 11 overs to go, Glenn Maxwell ended an 18-over spell of single-digit scores and smashed a 24-ball 41. Josh Inglis made up for a slow start with a 38 off 28 balls before skipper Pat Cummins’ 14-ball 37 rekindled the prospects of posting a 400-plus total before Boult’s triple strike hastened the end.

Brief scores:

Australia: 388 all out in 49.2 overs (Travis Head 109, David Warner 81; Glenn Phillips 3/37) New Zealand: 383/9 in 50 overs (Rachin Ravindra 116, Jimmy Neesham 58, Josh Hazlewood 2/70).

By Sampad

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