Kiwi poison ensures Oz relinquish throne to SA

Published: Sunday, February 18, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Dubai:World champions Australia's cup of woes were full to the brim less than one month before the World Cup as they suffered a shock series loss to New Zealand today and were dethroned by South Africa from the top of ICC ODI championship table in the process.

New Zealand added insult to injury to their trans Tasman neighbours by registering a series-clinching victory in Auckland today after the 10-wicket humiliation at Wellington on Friday.

Earlier this month, Australia ended second best in a triangular series in several years after they were beaten twice in the best of three finals in the CB series by England, which exposed the chinks in the Aussie armour and invited muted criticism from a few Aussie greats.

The Chappell-Hadlee series humiliation by New Zealand meant Australia lost two rating points and even a win in the final tie of the three-match series at Hamilton on Tuesday will not be enough to regain the top spot.

This marked the end of Australia's 52-month-long reign since October 2002 at the top of the ICC ODI chart even as New Zealand turns up the heat on Pakistan, who are at third place.

Australia, though, has enough time and opportunity to collect the 175,000 dollar purse, given to the side which leads the table on April 1, with the second-placed team pocketing 75,000 dollar.

Besides the Kiwi outside help, South Africa reached the summit position thanks to an outstanding recent run of form in the past 12 months.

Since it failed to qualify for the finals of the tri-series against Australia and Sri Lanka last February it has won 15 of its next 21 matches.

That run includes a 3-2 series win over Australia, sealed when it scored a world-record 438/9 at Johannesburg, as well as seven wins from its last eight completed matches while Australia lost five of their last six matches including today's reverse at Eden Park..

That led to gain in South Africa's rating by 10 points since the end of February last year while, during that same period, Australia's rating has slipped by seven points.

New Zealand's victory, which secures the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, has lifted it to 111 rating points and it now only trails third-placed Pakistan when the ratings are recalculated to three decimal places.

If Stephen Fleming's side can complete a 3-0 clean sweep on Tuesday then it will overtake Inzamam-ul-Haq's side, a timely boost for the side that failed to reach the tri-series final against Australia and England earlier this month.

Meanwhile, India is only two rating points further back in fifth place having moved ahead of Sri Lanka thanks to its 2-1 series win, completed with a seven-wicket victory over Mahela Jayawardene's side in Visakapatnam yesterday.

LG ICC ODI Championship: 1. South Africa (128); 2. Australia (126); 3. Pakistan (111); 4. New Zealand (111); 5. India (109); 6. Sri Lanka (108); 7. England (106); 8. West Indies (101); 9. Bangladesh (42); 10. Zimbabwe (22); 11. Kenya (0)


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