Cricket: Weather costs NZ series victory

By David Leggat

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Rain robbed New Zealand of a sensational win in the fifth and deciding Chappell Hadlee series ODI at the Gabba early today.

Requiring 156 to win in 20 overs after a Duckworth Lewis recalculation at the halfway stage - Australia having made 168 for four in 22 overs - New Zealand were roaring towards victory, and a 3-2 overall series win, when the rain that had dogged Brisbane all day returned.

At that point New Zealand, carried along by opener Martin Guptill's thrilling 64 not out off 34 balls, and with debutant Brendon Diamanti making a strong fist of things on 26 off 22 balls, were 123 for six, needing 33 in eight overs, and were cantering. The game ended in a no result, the series ending at 2-2.

At the rate they were going, having added 50 in 36 balls, and with Australia's bowlers having a damp ball and lost their radar, the match was there for New Zealand's taking until the rain cruelly returned.

New Zealand had made up for a disastrous period during which brainless shot selection cost them five wickets in 28 balls, plunging to 73 for six, and appeared to have handed the game to Australia.

What a year it has been for Guptill.

The Auckland opener made an unbeaten 122 on his ODI debut against the West Indies at Eden Park early last month and last night he came within a few minutes of almost single-handedly turning the world champions over.

His first 50 took only 24 balls as he despatched the bowlers to all parts of the ground and he hit five fours and three sixes in his innings.

Early on Guptill and Peter Fulton flogged the new ball for 36 runs in a 12-ball block as New Zealand seemed intent on getting to a mid-evening dinner engagement, the first 50 taking only 25 balls.

Then followed the slump before the exhilarating, if unfulfilled final surge.

Earlier, the rain around Brisbane had ruined the chance of a full game but there was a will to get the series decided. Calculations and planning, however, went out the window.

New Zealand did a fine job with the ball until the latter stages of Australia's innings.

Australia lost three wickets in 20 balls, including captain Ricky Ponting nibbling at a fine delivery from Kyle Mills to be caught behind and managed just three fours in the first eight overs.

But Mills departed with an Achilles tendon injury shortly after, which will rule him out of tomorrow's Twenty20 international in Sydney, and Diamanti proved eminently hittable in his two overs.

At the halfway mark Australia were 70 for three and player of the series Mike Hussey fell next ball to an Italian job - caught Diamanti bowled Vettori.

Then things fell apart as Brad Haddin's fine run of form at the top of the order continued. He blazed his way to 88 not out from just 65 balls, loaded with clean hitting, three of which cleared the fence.

Haddin found excellent support from Callum Ferguson, who hit a snazzy 55 not out off 35 balls, and together they took giant chunks out of New Zealand's bowling.

The fielding got slipshod and the last four overs cost 58, Tim Southee and Iain O'Brien getting carved all around the Gabba.

SCOREBOARD

AUSTRALIA

J Hopes c Vettori b Mills - 5
B Haddin not out - 88
R Ponting c McCullum b Mills - 2
D Hussey b O'Brien - 6
M Hussey c Diamanti b Vettori - 9
C Ferguson not out - 55
Extras (3w) - 3

Total (4wkts) - 168

Fall: 9, 20, 30, 70.

Bowling: K Mills 4-0-22-2 (1w), T Southee 5-0-49-0 (1w), I O'Brien 5-0-40-1, B Diamanti 2-0-25-0, D Vettori 4-0-24-1, G Elliott 2-0-8-0 (1w).

NEW ZEALAND

B McCullum b Hilfenhaus - 2
M Guptill not out - 64
P Fulton c Ferguson b Bracken - 22
R Taylor c M Hussey b Johnson - 4
G Elliott c Haddin b Bracken - 0
N Broom run out - 0
K Mills c M Hussey b Siddle - 1
B Diamanti not out - 26
Extras (1lb, 3w) - 4

Total (6wks; 14 overs) 123

Fall: 2, 40, 56, 68, 68, 73.

Bowling: B Hilfenhaus 3-0-28-1 (1w), N Bracken 3-0-33-2, M Johnson 3-0-28-1 (1w), P Siddle 3-0-13-1, J Hopes 2-0-20-0 (1w).

- NZ Herald

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