In a battle of the co-hosts of the 2015 Cricket World Cup — and also, along with India, the two most impressive teams thus far — New Zealand defeated Australia by one wicket before more than 40,000 fans in Auckland, New Zealand on Friday night.
The match featured some incredible bowling, the cricket equivalent of baseball pitching. To wit: Out of a possible 100 overs, this match lasted only 55.3; yet 19 of the maximum 20 wickets fell.
New Zealand appeared to be cruising to victory. It limited Australia to 151 all-out, in 32.2 overs, in the opening innings. (That total was far less than half the 342 runs Australia scored in defeating England in its opener.) Yet the Black Caps were limited to 152-9 in reply.
New Zealand fast-bowler Trent Boult was the man of the match. He finished with five wickets for 27 runs. Boult, who bowls at 90 mph, was the subject of a couple puns from the announcers when he took two wickets in quick succession. On the first, he was greeted with “that was a thunderbolt!” On the second, the announcers said he was quicker than world class sprinter Usain Bolt.
Tim Southee and Daniel Vettori each added two wickets for New Zealand. Australia’s high scorer was Brad Haddin with 43 runs. The Aussies had started well — they were 80 for 1 before losing eight wickets for 26 runs, an almost unimaginable fall for the team that entered the tournament ranked No. 1.
New Zealand began its innings 78-2 and appeared to be cruising before lefty fast bowler Mitchell Starc took over. Starc, who bowls at 92 mph, took six wickets while giving up 28 runs. He was so dominant that he had 42 deliveries go for zero runs. It was an incredible performance in a sport where teams sometimes average one run per ball.
New Zealand wound up trailing and down to its last wicket when Kane Williamson hit a six off righty fast bowler Pat Cummins to win it.
The breathless match will have many fans hoping for an encore in the knockout stages of the tournament. And possibly in the final on March 29 in Melbourne, Australia.