Port Elizabeth: Australia recovered from a battering by New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond to maintain its unbeaten run in the World Cup at St George's Park on Tuesday.[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Bond ripped through the Australian top order batting to take six for 23, the best figures in New Zealand One-day International history, as Australia crashed to 84 for seven in the Super Six clash.But the reigning champion recovered to 208 for nine before its bowlers launched an assault of its own to send New Zealand tumbling to 112 all out and a 96-run defeat.It left New Zealand uncertain of qualifying for the semi-finals and looking for a victory in its last Super Six match against India at Centurion on Friday.Australia, which has already qualified for the last four, plays Kenya in its last match against Kenya at Durban on Saturday before returning to the St George's Park for the first semi-final on March 18.Michael Bevan and Andy Bichel, who shared a match-winning unbeaten ninth wicket stand of 73 in a pool match against England on the same ground, were again their team's saviours, putting on 97 for the eighth wicket. Then Glenn McGrath took three wickets in a deadly opening spell at the start of the New Zealand innings before Brett Lee produced an electrifying burst of fast bowling to seal New Zealand's fate.
Lee dismissed New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming, who was sixth man out for 48, before slicing into the Kiwi tail, taking three wickets in four balls and finishing with five for 42. He took all his five wickets in the space of 15 deliveries. McGrath took three for 29. Bond, 27, more than fulfilled the pre-match wish expressed by Fleming who wanted his main fast bowler to "knock the top off Australia." Bond did just, having Matthew Hayden caught behind for one, trapping Adam Gilchrist leg before for 18 and Ricky Ponting caught at slip for six in an opening spell of three for 20 in six overs.
He returned later to rip out Damien Martyn, Brad Hogg and Ian Harvey in a second spell of three for three in four overs. But Fleming, who had gambled by sending Australia in, took another chance by letting his strike bowler complete his maximum number of overs with 21 overs still to be bowled in the Australian innings.As they had against England, when they came together with Australia in trouble at 135 for eight, Bevan and Bichel set about repairing the damage with sensible batting.
The left-handed Bevan played the anchor role, making 56 off 94 balls, while the right-handed Bichel hit a career-best 64 off 83 deliveries, which included seven fours and a six off an attempted slower ball from Andre Adams which bounced twice before Bichel powered it over mid-wicket. Bevan and Bichel were dismissed in the last three overs but Lee finished the innings on a high for Australia by hitting the last two balls from Jacob Oram for six. Bond's figures beat the previous best for New Zealand, six for 25 by Scott Styris against the West Indies in Port-of-Spain last year. Bond's personal best had been five for 25 against Australia in Adelaide last season.