Clinical Aussies overcome New Zealand by 7 wickets

Kushan Sarkar

Nagpur, Feb 25 (PTI) Defending champions Australia dishedout a clinical display to outplay Trans-Tasman rivals NewZealand and notch up a comprehensive seven-wicket victory with16 overs to spare, in a group A game of the World Cup heretoday.

Ricky Ponting''s boys raised their game and proved to be afar superior side in each and every department. This wasPonting''s 24th consecutive victory as Australian captain inWorld Cups.

With a modest target of 207 to chase, Australian openersShane Watson (62, 61 balls, 6x4, 1x6) and Brad Haddin (55, 50balls, 8x4) sent the Kiwi bowlers on a leatherhunt during anopening partnership of 131 in only 18 overs.

This was after the Aussie pacers, led by Mitchell Johnsonand Shaun Tait, produced a hostile spell of fast bowling todecimate the opposition in only 45.1 overs at the VidarbhaCricket Association ground.

Both Tait (3/35 in 7 overs) and Johnson (4/33 in 9.1overs) bowled with pace and accuracy which made livesdifficult for the opposition batsmen.

The New Zealand team, still disturbed due to the tragedyback home, never looked like competing in the first place.

Their bowlers, especially Hamish Bennett, sprayed all over theplace as Watson and Haddin took them to cleaners.

Haddin''s innings was a contrast to his painstaking 29against Zimbabwe on Monday as he blasted his way to a halfcentury in only 39 balls. This was the wicket-keeper batsman''s12th half century in 78th ODI.

Watson, who started off slowly after getting reprieve dueto Umpires Review (Tim Southee was the bowler), got into theact and literally toyed with slower bowlers like DanielVettori and Nathan McCullum.

Watson produced some typical slogs with great effect onthe way to his 21st fifty.

By the time, Haddin holed out in the deep off HamishBennett, and Watson played on, the writing was on the wall forNew Zealand. Ponting (12) again failed to deliver but victorywas just a formality then.

Earlier, Nathan McCullum stood tall amidst the ruins witha fighting half century. Courtesy Nathan''s (52, 76 balls, 3x4)rearguard action, New Zealand were able to cross the 200-runmark after Aussie bowlers blew away the top-six within 17overs with 73 on board.

He shared 48 runs for the seventh wicket with Jamie How(22) and 54 with Vettori (44, 43 balls, 5x4).

After overnight rain, Ponting elected to field asconditions were bit overcast. Ideally, he would have liked hisspeedsters to extract all the help available from the strip.

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