Aussies Crowned Cricket World Champions
Australia are World Cup champions for a fifth time, after the most dominant force in cricket returned to the pinnacle in emphatic style with a forensic demolition of New Zealand at the MCG.
Following last summer’s Ashes whitewash, the seven-wicket victory marks the latest history-making achievement for Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke’s side, as the retiring skipper bowed out on a memorable high with a magical 74 off 72 balls.
Steve Smith, the run-machine, iced his Bradman-like summer with an unbeaten 56 and the glory of hitting the winning runs.
With Australia 120 from home, it was fitting that Clarke would walk out to the ODI crease one last time to join who else but his heir to his throne, Smith in front of an all-time record 93,013 cricket fans at Melbourne’s coliseum.
The old master and the new star combined at the crease for a match-clinching 112-run partnership, as Australia chased down a small-fry target of 184 with 101 balls to spare.
It was a glorious sliding doors moment for an Australian team that under Smith are every chance of creating another World Cup dynasty in four years time.
Smith finished off in style with a fifth consecutive score of 50 or more, and leapt into the arms of veteran Shane Watson – who may have also played his last ODI.
Since the opening night of this 44-day campaign, more than one million fans have flooded through the gates on both sides of the Tasman, and all along the Darren Lehmann-coached side have loomed large as an unstoppable powerhouse.
Australia’s biggest threat was always going to be themselves, and although selectors took longer than expected to settle on their best XI, at the business end of the tournament they got it 100 per cent right.
It was hard to call New Zealand’s meek surrender a choke, but Australia strangled their little brothers from ball one.
A second-over duck for dangerous opener Aaron Finch gave New Zealand a glimmer of hope, but that soon disappeared as David Warner found the fence seven times in a quick-fire 45.
Faulkner is an all-rounder with rare tenacity and last night he willed himself to a brilliant three-wicket starring role.