Cricket: Batting, bad bowling, worse

By David Leggat

New Zealand got a transtasman hiding last night as Australia retained the Chappell Hadlee Trophy and moved their World Cup campaign up a gear.

Having been sent in at Nagpur's Vidarbha Stadium, the batting capitulated lamely for 206 in 45.1 overs before the bowlers managed to trump them in ineptitude.

Australian openers Brad Haddin and Shane Watson jumped all over an assortment of bowling which was short, full, wide and 'orrible, and included 29 wides.

The margin was seven wickets with 16 overs to spare - Australia's sixth cup victory in eight clashes with New Zealand.

But this game was up from the time Haddin and Watson settled in.

Their crunching 133-run partnership erased any hope New Zealand had of making a contest of it.

Before the start, both teams lined up for a minute's silence to mark the Christchurch tragedy. The players linked arms for a moment or two outside the dressing rooms before the start of Australia's chase. "Thinking of you Christchurch" read one sign.

Minds may partly have been elsewhere but awful events half a world away cannot entirely excuse what happened.

In the field, New Zealand needed things to fall their way. Had Watson not deservedly won an appeal after being given lbw to Tim Southee in the fifth over, the door might have opened a crack.

Later Southee opted not to appeal a decision when he would have had Ricky Ponting lbw. C'est la vie.

Captain Dan Vettori opened the bowling with himself, but could not win a trick and got some rough treatment from Watson later too.

Hamish Bennett's first two overs cost 22 and it went downhill from there. None of the others were up to the job either as the belligerent Australian pair went about their work with gusto.

A brilliant legside stumping by Brendon McCullum to remove Ponting was the high point.

There seemed no consistency to New Zealand's attack, in which Bennett was preferred to the more senior Kyle Mills, and allrounder Jacob Oram was omitted for Jamie How to lengthen the batting.

If much of the bowling was a mess, the New Zealand innings had a grimly familiar feeling to it.

McCullum managed two cuts over backward point to the fence, before being caught at third man.

Martin Guptill, who had been in good touch, unluckily got a ball which kept low. Jesse Ryder looked tidy before playing a nothing shot at Mitchell Johnson.

That started a wretched slump in which four wickets fell for seven runs in 23 balls. James Franklin and Scott Styris pushed out well away from their bodies, and Ross Taylor was bowled off his pads.

It was his fourth single figure score in the last five innings. He badly needs runs, for his and New Zealand's sake.

The Australian pace trio of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Johnson were always at the batsmen.

Australia bowlers don't often give runs away like lollies at a children's picnic. All three operated at 140km/h or above, meaning New Zealand had to find ways to get runs rather than have them handed out.

Had it not been for Nathan McCullum, whose influence with the bat is becoming more pronounced by the game, and Vettori, New Zealand would have had nothing to defend.

McCullum's 52 was his third ODI half century in four innings.

This time, he put away the blazing shots and batting cleverly to get something going.

The batting power play was wasted. Vettori should have opted to take it three or four overs earlier when he and McCullum were set.

The innings ended at the start of the fourth of the five overs for which Australia were obliged to have all bar three of the field inside the circle.

Next up it is Zimbabwe on Friday night. Plenty of time for pondering.

- NZ Herald

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