Mitchell Starc bowled Brendon McCullum for a duck in the first over and the Australian bowlers maintained the relentless pressure to dismiss New Zealand for 183 in the Cricket World Cup final on Sunday.
New Zealand went into its first World Cup final on an eight-game winning streak, including a one-wicket group-stage victory over the Australians in Auckland, and with McCullum vowing to stick to an attacking game plan.
He played and missed twice before he was bowled by Starc, now the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, and New Zealand slipped to 39-3 in the 13th over when Martin Guptill (15) was bowled by Glenn Maxwell and Kane Willliamson (12) gave a return catch to Mitchell Johnson.
Guptill, who had scored 57, 105, a World Cup record unbeaten 237 and 34 in his previous four innings, withstood the early pace barrage to surpass Kumar Sangakkara as the tournament-leading scorer and took his tally to 547 runs before he succumbed immediately when spin was introduced in the 12th over.
Grant Elliott (83) and Ross Taylor (40) combined in a 111-run partnership for the fourth wicket to revive the innings — helping New Zealand avoid Pakistan’s 132 in the 1999 loss to Australia as the lowest total in a World Cup final — before James Faulkner (3-36) returned to the attack and took two wickets from three balls.
Australia’s left-arm pacemen combined to take eight of the wickets. Starc returned 2-20, finishing with a tournament-leading 22 wickets at the World Cup, and Johnson bowled Daniel Vettori (9) and had Matt Henry (0) caught out to finish with 3-30 when Tim Southee (11) was run out to end the innings in 45 overs.
The New Zealanders have been the story of the tournament, led by McCullum’s enterprising captaincy. With an Australian record 91,112-plus crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, though, it was Australian skipper Michael Clarke — in his last ODI match — who had the better of the first exchange with his bowling and fielding changes. Most of the wickets fell in the first over a bowler’s spell, while Elliott and Taylor were the only batsmen to really settle in.
Taylor had faced 72 balls before reaching for and edging a wider ball from Faulkner at the start of the batting power play and was well caught by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin. The dismissal triggered a middle-order collapse, with Australia taking three wickets for one run in eight deliveries to turn the momentum back in its favor.
Corey Anderson faced two balls before he was bowled by Faulkner without addition to the total and Luke Ronchi was caught at slip off Starc’s bowling as New Zealand slipped to 151-6 in the 37th over.
Vettori, playing the last international game of his 18-year career couldn’t hang around with Elliott long enough to continue the kind of late partnership that helped New Zealand to a next-to-last-ball semifinal win over South Africa.
New Zealand, which lost six semifinals in previous World Cups before Elliott’s historic winning six against South Africa in Auckland, was playing away from home for the first time in the tournament. Australia, which has won four World Cups in previous trips to the final, was dominant at home.
India defended 183 to win the 1983 World Cup title against the West Indies, and New Zealand will be relying on Tim Southee and Trent Boult to take early wickets to have any chance against Australia.