ICL: Indian Cricket League

Unlucky New Zealand miss out in rain-ruined decider


Australia clung to the Chappell-Hadlee Series despite a brave push from New Zealand after the final game was spoilt by rain. Martin Guptill’s fighting half-century was in vain as the visitors finished at 6 for 123; they were ahead on Duckworth-Lewis but needed to make the target of 156 in 20 overs to qualify the contest as a match.

The result left the series drawn at 2-2 and Australia kept the prize after their win in 2007-08. It was a sad end for New Zealand after a day that swung from saturated to soggy and slippery.

New Zealand started their innings after Australia’s 4 for 168 and relied on Guptill, who blasted his half-century from only 24 balls. He went on to 64 off 34, with five fours and three sixes, and after adding 50 in six overs with the debutant Brendon Diamanti (26*), they required 33 in 36 balls for their first one-day series win in Australia. So close but so wet.

Guptill scored at such high speed that New Zealand required less than a run a ball over the final third of the chase, which was extraordinary considering the losses the side suffered. His partnership with Diamanti frustrated the Australians - at one stage Ponting was heard to grumble “what’s going on?” - and with eight overs remaining they needed a highly gettable 42.

New Zealand’s already difficult assignment had grown harder on the second ball of the innings when the out-of-sorts Brendon McCullum (2) was bowled by a Ben Hilfenhaus outswinger. Guptill and Peter Fulton tried to make it look like the sun was shining by speeding to 38 off the first three overs.

However, Fulton’s cameo of 22 off 12 balls, including two sixes in an over off Hilfenhaus, ended with a clever back-tracking catch by Ferguson at point. Ross Taylor followed with another wild miscue, this time to Mitchell Johnson, and the quick departures of Grant Elliott and Neil Broom, who was run-out by a direct hit from Ricky Ponting, left New Zealand at 5 for 68. In their push to stay in touch they almost imploded and then Michael Hussey leapt to take a one-handed catch to remove Kyle Mills for 1.

Haddin stood up in the tricky conditions after Mills caused early damage in his opening spell. Australia were 3 for 30 before Haddin steered the side with 88 from 65 balls. He liked the bowling of Diamanti and hit him for a six over long-on and a straight four in the same over.

After bringing up his half-century from 43 balls, he finished in a flurry, hitting Tim Southee into the second tier of the Northern Stand and launching Iain O’Brien into the Southern. Callum Ferguson joined in as the pair blasted 98 in 10.5 overs. He arrived and captured 55 in 35 deliveries to inflate Australia’s total, which included 30 in the two-over batting Powerplay.

James Hopes was promoted to open with Michael Clarke missing due to a back problem, but he walked off after skying Mills to mid-off in the third over. It was Mills again who forced a fine outside edge from Ponting (2) and Australia were wobbling at 2 for 20. Ponting was one of a handful of Australian players who returned to the team hotel during the rain delay in the afternoon before being called back to the ground.

O’Brien bowled a slashing David Hussey for 6 to inflict further damage in his first over, but Australia recovered through a 40-run stand between the dominant Haddin and Michael Hussey. Just as they were starting to look reasonably comfortable Hussey (9) pulled Daniel Vettori’s first delivery to Diamanti at deep midwicket, reducing the hosts to 4 for 70.

Mills left the field after his third over with a right Achilles injury, but came back for his fourth and saw Guptill miss a tough one-handed chance to his right off Michael Hussey on 1. Even in such a short spell Mills deserved better, finishing with 2 for 22.

That there was any play at all was almost a miracle after heavy showers on Thursday night and most of the day on Friday. While the contest is crucial in deciding the winner of the five-match series, it will also give the players some practice before Sunday’s Twenty20 in Sydney.

Source:Cricket News

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