Bridge too far for Black Caps

Australia's wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (L) celebrates with team-mates James Faulkner (2nd L) and...
Australia's wicketkeeper Brad Haddin (L) celebrates with team-mates James Faulkner (2nd L) and Mitchell Starc after dismissing New Zealand's Grant Elliott for 83. Photo by Reuters.
The dream died hard for New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground last night.

It went wrong from the first, superb over from Mitchell Starc and, with too few runs to work with, it was Australia's crown to claim in a canter before a record Australian crowd of more than 93,013.

In the end, the margin was seven wickets, but any suggestion this campaign was some sort of gallant failure is wrong.

The New Zealand players took their people on a fabulous six week ride only to get a flat tyre on the final kilometre.

''There were plenty of nerves but it was a plan we've been working on with [bowling coach] Craig McDermott for a couple of days and it was nice to see it come off,'' Mitchell Starc said of the key Brendon McCullum wicket.

''It was an amazing feeling.''

''Brendon McCullum has done an incredible job leading the New Zealand team,'' Shane Watson said.

Australia was simply too good, got its revenge for the one wicket loss at Eden Park and nailed a convincing fifth world crown. The disappointment for New Zealand was that it was unable to be truly competitive.

Lose having given a good account is one thing; sadly for New Zealand it was off its game - or, perhaps more accurately, Australia rocked it so far off stride in the first 10 overs that it could find no way back.

Further signs that it was not to be New Zealand's day came early in Australia's chase for a wholly inadequate 183.

Tim Southee and Trent Boult both beat the bat repeatedly early but New Zealand needed every bit of good fortune on offer.

David Warner edged Southee straight through where second slip had been one ball earlier; Steven Smith had a ball from Matt Henry roll slowly back on to his stumps; Martin Guptill could not get a hand on a fierce Michael Clarke slash to his right at gully; Dan Vettori was hobbling in the outfield before marking out his runup. No rubs of the green went New Zealand's way.

Australian captain Michael Clarke ended his ODI days with 74 and took the applause a final time in yellow and green.

Brendon McCullum's decision to bat first was the assertive play. The pitch was good, the sun was out and it deprived Australia of its preferred course of action.

But it depended on McCullum, Guptill and Kane Williamson getting in and away. That trio were whisked away with 39 on the board and only Grant Elliott prospered from there with a fine, organised 83.

The first over showed how important McCullum is to this team. He sets the tone, gets the innings off and running, even if not necessarily making a pile of runs himself.

But yesterday he did not look comfortable. The shot he played, and missed, to be dismissed did not convince.

Williamson looked out of sorts, too. He was unable to get a measure of top quality fast bowling from Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood and, as with McCullum and Guptill fell to a poor shot.

Guptill started encouragingly but two of his last 19 balls showed he had lost direction.

Elliott was something of a surprise pick but was, by a distance, New Zealand's best batsman yesterday - calm, in control and thoroughly deserving a century.

With Taylor, determined and grafting, he put on 111 for the fifth wicket, but Taylor's dismissal to the first ball of the power play at the start of the 36th over started a slide. Seven wickets fell for 33 in 10 overs. Curtains.

Australia's bowling was aggressive, distinctly fast early on - mouthy wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was standing just inside the 30m circle and taking the ball at head height - and you had to wonder if New Zealand's confidence in coping with the crowd and emotion of the occasion was slightly misplaced.

However, there is no question New Zealand's impact on this cup has been substantial.

 

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