Millennium Post

Worthy champions

With five World Cups in its kitty, Australia has become cricket’s equivalent to the Brazilian national football team, albeit without the romance attributed to the latter. Australian captain Michael Clarke signed off from One Day International cricket with a half century and another World Cup title, leading his team to a seven-wicket victory over first-time finalist New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.  The difference, many would suggest, lay in the bowling department, led by fast-bowling all-rounder James Faulkner, who was named man of the match for his sensational three-wicket spell. Mitchell Starc was named the player of the tournament as the left-arm speedster finished with 22 wickets in the tournament. It was Australia’s left-arm pacemen that did the early damage, with man of the tournament Mitchell Starc dislodging New Zealand skipper and swashbuckling opener Brendan McCullum in the very first over. Although Grant Elliot and Ross Taylor put on 111 runs for the fourth wicket, it was James Faulkner’s inspired spell that restricted New Zealand to a paltry 183 in 45 overs. Half centuries from both Michael Clarke and an in-form Steven Smith allowed Australia to chase down the target of 184.  The New Zealanders had been the story of the tournament, led by McCullum’s enterprising captaincy. The World Cup final, though, was representative of the way Australia won the tournament as a whole. Aggressive and accurate fast bowling, personified by Starc, backed up by agile fielding and trademark sledging. The batting stood up to the task, led by the undeniable class and guile of Australia’s number 3, Steven Smith. Although the present Australian side may not have evoked the same respect as previous tournament winners, it possessed a strength and depth that was there for all to witness. Every member of the final eleven played their part in producing at least one match-defining performance over the course of the tournament. With brute force and class in abundance, Australia deserved to win it.  1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015; the Australians have shown us time and again how it’s done.
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