Australia continues winning run, beats Kiwis
Published: Sunday, November 9, 2003, 23:21 [IST]
Scorecard of Match 7
Guwahati: Michael Bevan set up depleted Australia's 44-run victory over New Zealand with an unbeaten 84 under pressure in a triangular One-day series match here. The left-hander lived up to his reputation as one of the game's best finishers with his 44th half-century as world champions Australia recovered from 61 for four to post 225 for seven after being put in to bat on Sunday. Australia, who rested key fast bowler Brad Williams, opener Matthew Hayden and wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, still managed to win their fourth successive match when they bundled New Zealand out for 181. Scott Styris alone offered resistance as he top-scored with 54 for his fifth half- century, but his dismissal virtually ended New Zealand's last hopes of winning the match. Ricky Ponting's Australians are already in the final with four wins from five games, followed by India (1/4) and New Zealand (1/5). "Bevan played another fantastic knock after we had lost four early wickets. It was a good win as we had rested a couple of players," said Australian captain Ponting. New Zealand's batsmen squandered a fine opportunity to win the match after fast bowlers Daryl Tuffey and Kyle Mills and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori shared six wickets to restrict Australia to a modest total. New Zealand were rocked by left-arm seamer Nathan Bracken, who dismissed Chris Nevin (two) and Lou Vincent (12) in his lively opening spell. Skipper Stephen Fleming (29) was then deceived by a slower one from seamer Ian Harvey, offering an easy return catch to the bowler after checking his stroke at the last moment. Australia virtually wrapped up the match when Andy Bichel had Craig McMillan caught by wicketkeeper Jimmy Maher and spinner Brad Hogg trapped Jacob Oram leg-before to reduce New Zealand to 88 for five. "I think we should have got the runs. We need innings of substance from our top- order batsmen," said Fleming. None of the New Zealand batsmen could match Bevan, who kept his end intact until the last over to rally his team. He added 78 for the fifth wicket with Ponting (52) and 61 for the unbroken eighth wicket with Bichel (15 not out). "It was nice to score runs in different conditions," said Bevan, named Man of the Match. "We were looking at a total of 240 or 250 on a low, slow wicket. But I am happy with the way things are going and hope to contribute in the final also." Fleming's decision to field first after winning the toss paid rich dividends as Tuffey and Mills exploited early freshness in the wicket to help their team seize the initiative. Tuffey and Mills shared four early wickets before Vettori tied the batsmen into knots during his economical 10 overs, conceding just 20 runs. Vettori struck just when Ponting and Bevan threatened to take the match away from New Zealand. Ponting became Vettori's 100th victim in One-dayers when he stepped out of the crease to try a big shot and was caught in the deep by McMillan. He hit six fours in his 34th half-century. Vettori then removed Michael Clarke, who also fell in a similar manner after contributing just two runs. Bevan continued to keep the New Zealand attack at bay, helping his team cross the 200-mark in Bichel's company.