Faridabad: Australia's second-string pacemen Nathan Bracken and Brad Williams wrecked New Zealand to set up a spectacular eight-wicket win for the cricket world champions in the tri-series match. The Kiwis, caught unawares on a rare seaming wicket in India after electing to bat first, were reduced to 21 for five by Bracken and Williams before being shot out for 97 in 33.4 overs on Wednesday.
The Australians coasted to victory in the 17th over, ensuring the day match at the Nahar Singh stadium ended 35 minutes after the scheduled lunch breakMatthew Hayden celebrated his 32nd birthday with an unbeaten 51, reaching the half- century with the winning boundary off Daryl Tuffey. Australia lost Adam Gilchrist (29) and skipper Ricky Ponting (12) on either side of the lunch interval, but Hayden made light of the wicket that lost some of its bite as the day progressed. It was a powerful fightback by Ponting's world champions after the 37-run defeat to hosts India at Gwalior on Sunday.
The Kiwis fell for their fifth lowest total in One-day Internationals with the highest contributor being 32 extras, including 17 wides sent down by the Australian bowlers. Left-armer Bracken, the 26-year-old from New South Wales playing only his 13th One- dayer, took three for 21 in a hostile opening burst of eight overs. Williams, two years older but still a nine-match rookie, lent powerful support with four for 22. The duo made up for the absence of five frontline bowlers in Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Brett Lee, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill with a spectacular demolition of the Black Caps.
Both New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming and Ponting admitted later they were surprised at the movement the unusually grassy wicket generated. "We obviously missed a trick there," Fleming said. "These were the type of conditions we get at home and we could have done with all the advantage we get against a team like Australia. A toss normally does not win or lose a match, but in this case it did. It was difficult to bat in the morning but the Australians used the conditions pretty well."
A visibly relieved Ponting said he too had planned to bat first had he called correctly at the toss."I must say it was a very good toss to lose," he said. "I was very surprised to see so much grass on the wicket, you usually don't get that in India. There was a lot of sideways movement in the morning and our bowlers hit the right spot.
The pitch flattened out by afternoon which was very good for us." Australia takes on India in the next match in Sachin Tendulkar's home city of Bombay on Saturday. New Zealand, whose opening encounter against India was washed out in Madras last week, plays Australia next at Pune on Monday. Each teams plays the other three times in the preliminary league before the final at Calcutta's Eden Gardens on November 18.