New Zealand clip Australia in Cricket World Cup thriller
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP):
New Zealand scraped home in a thrilling finish against Australia in yesterday's clash of the Cricket World Cup co-hosts, with Kane Williamson hitting a six to give the Black Caps a one-wicket win after Australia had threatened a remarkable victory.
Having bowled out Australia for just 151, New Zealand looked set to inflict a humiliating defeat on their neighbours when they cruised to 78-1 in the eighth over, but some superb bowling by Mitchell Starc (6-28) breathed new life into the contest.
Williamson ended it when he clubbed a six from the first ball of the 24th over, delighting a packed Eden Park and leaving New Zealand unbeaten at the top of Pool A.
Starc's magnificent bowling effort - he took three wickets for four runs from three overs in his final spell - meant Australia left the match with their pride and confidence intact, just when both looked shot after a powerful performance by New Zealand's bowlers and batting top order.
The result did, though, set up New Zealand to win the pool and to take an easier path than Australia through the quarter-finals.
Starc claimed his wickets in two bursts, twice plunging New Zealand's innings into chaos. He first removed Black Caps skipper McCullum, who made a typically dashing 50 off 21 balls with seven fours and three sixes.
That wicket precipitated a mini-collapse of three wickets in five balls around the innings break, reducing the hosts from 78-1 to 78-4.
After McCullum, Starc removed Ross Taylor (1) four balls later and bowled Grant Elliott (0) with the first ball after the resumption.
Williamson and Corey Anderson (26) restored the innings in a fighting 50-run partnership for the fifth wicket. When Mitchell Johnson came on for Starc in the 15th over, Anderson hit him for two fours and a six from his first three balls, and New Zealand was back on top. Johnson conceded 68 runs from six overs.
When Anderson went for 26, New Zealand were still on course for an easy victory, needing 20 runs with five wickets in hand, but Starc returned to torment the lower order and turn what should have been a comfortable finish into a thoroughly nerve-wracking climax.
He removed Luke Ronchi, Adam Milne and Tim Southee with some venomous deliveries, bringing in No. 11 Trent Boult - who earlier took a career-best 5-27 in a superb bowling display - with six runs required and two balls left in Starc's over.
A block and a leave saw off the immediate threat and Williamson - not wanting to risk getting Boult back on strike - stepped away from the stumps when Pat Cummins bowled the first ball of the 24th over, and struck the ball over the short long-on boundary for six and the winning runs.