Australia v New Zealand, World Cup 2015, final, Melbourne March 29, 2015

Majestic Australia win fifth World Cup

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Australia 186 for 3 (Clarke 74, Smith 56*) beat New Zealand 183 (Elliott 83, Johnson 3-30, Faulkner 3-36) by 7 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Australia's all-round brilliance left New Zealand in a shadow © Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

It had been the World Cup of short balls. On a flat MCG deck, it had seemed bounce would be the bowlers' major ally. But so cocksure were Australia's pace phalanx of their quality, they left nothing to the vagaries of the surface, firing balls full, fast and straight to deliver Australia a seven-wicket win and their fifth World Cup in comprehensive fashion.

Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson shared five wickets, having sent down several spells of searing, swinging yorkers between them, and James Faulkner - slower but cannier than the other left-armers - claimed three scalps for himself. In all, eight wickets fell to full deliveries as New Zealand were felled for 183 in the 45th over.

There were early nerves in the chase, particularly when Aaron Finch fell in the second over, but Michael Clarke and Steven Smith stroked fluent half-centuries to run the target down inside 34 overs. Clarke, the departing captain, had a standing ovation when he left the field after his sparkling 74 from 72. Smith, his most likely successor, stayed at the crease to hit the last ball of the World Cup through deep square leg for four.

All through the tournament batting sides have broken games open in the final 15 overs of their innings, but Australia bent history in a different direction by blowing through New Zealand's middle order and tail during the death overs. New Zealand might have harboured hopes of a score of 250, perhaps even 300, when Grant Elliott and Ross Taylor's 111-run stand had repaired early damage. But when the batting Powerplay came on at the 35th over, Faulkner claimed two scalps from three balls to send the opposition into a nosedive.

His slower ball first took Taylor's outside edge en route to a diving Brad Haddin, before two balls later, Corey Anderson missed a straight yorker that made a mess of his stumps. Luke Ronchi was caught sharply at slip off Starc early next over, and Daniel Vettori castled by Johnson in the 41st. Elliott had played smoothly for his 82 ball 83, but was forced into a premature attack by the carnage at the other end, and was dismissed by a now-combative Faulkner, before a Glenn Maxwell direct hit found a languid Tim Southee short of his crease to end the innings.

In the end it was a final almost completely devoid of David v Goliath romance. New Zealand had captured neutral support partly because of the spirit with which they had played this World Cup, but all through the final, there were touches of arrogance from Australia to go with their overpowering skill and strength. Brad Haddin's sniping from behind the stumps was nearly incessant, several New Zealand batsmen had words shot at them as they departed, and the David Warner blows that kick-started Australia's chase smacked of disdain.

Luck too, favoured 21st century pragmatism over the fairytale. Daniel Vettori, the final's second oldest man, injured himself early in the second innings and could only pivot gingerly through his five overs. Brendon McCullum had attacked relentlessly in the field right through this campaign, but the moment Warner's assault bent his resolve out of shape, the next ball flew through second slip, where moments before a fielder had stood. Then the final slap in the face in the 15th over: Matt Henry's ball dribbled onto Smith's stumps, but did not dislodge the zing bails.

McCullum's World Cup final innings was a high-octane blur. Starc bowled fast and full, straightening the ball only a touch, but menacingly late. McCullum swung straight at the first, missed, then missed again when he advanced next ball. The third inswinging yorker clattered into the base of off stump. Starc took off toward square leg in celebration, the MCG's mighty roar in his ears. McCullum left his side at 1 for 1, having been comprehensively outdone.

The early wicket helped weigh the New Zealand batsmen down, but Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson were also muted by impeccable pace bowling from Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and later Johnson. They collected only two fours and a top-edged six in the first 10 overs. Having averaged more than seven an over through that period in the tournament, New Zealand were 31 for 1 when the field restrictions expired. Australia's lively ground fielding ensured even rare loose balls were punished minimally.

Australia grew red hot with the scalps of Guptill and Williamson - the former inexplicably missing an innocuous Maxwell offbreak, the latter spooning a return catch to Johnson in the 13th over. Elliott and Taylor combined to fight the fire, poking the first few runs through the offside with hard hands before Clarke slipped in a few overs from his supporting bowlers to inadvertently ease the pair in.

Elliott eventually took another top-edged six and laced a few through the covers to move to a strike rate of around 100. He was the only New Zealand batsman to appear comfortable at the crease while Taylor plodded at the other end. All through the partnership, Australia's quicks would earn thick edges, but these flew fast and high over the infield. Third man was a productive area for the batsmen.

Trent Boult raised hopes of an upset when in a scorching spell, he caught and bowled Finch to leave Australia 2 for 1. But Warner soon propelled Australia through the early overs, and Australia were not shaken after that. Warner was caught attempting a second pulled four for 45 off Henry, but Smith and Clarke combined to make 112 stress-free runs together to effectively close out the Cup.

Clarke was composed to begin with, but a brace of late boundaries - including four consecutive fours off Tim Southee's 31st over - he sent his side hurtling towards the trophy. He was out soon after for a 72-ball 74, but Smith capped a dream summer by completing his fifty the same over, then sealed the result soon after.

When New Zealand were all out for 183, the 1983 World Cup final was invoked. When Vettori began hobbling in what was probably his final international, comparisons with Muttiah Muralitharan's plight in the 2011 final were made. Australia's 1999 annihilation of Pakistan came closest to matching the narrative of this game. In the end, the final perhaps fit a 2015 tournament that has seen precious few close contests.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricchirp on April 1, 2015, 18:27 GMT

    Well done aussies. But still not a well balanced team, lot of work to do and they need reliable openers. Surprised by drop in slow Australian Wickets. There are lot of one-sided matches in the world up which is not doing good for cricket. Just playing in world cup, without international matches and exposure does not do any good for associate nations.

  • micklem on April 1, 2015, 9:21 GMT

    Congratulation to Aus for lifting the cup one more time.I guess Darren lehman made a lot of difference.5 WorldCups in 5 different possible continents is really something special.Aus won not only bcz they were excellent,also bcz others were not good enough.Aussies are in fact Invincibles now in world of cricket...

  • micklem on April 1, 2015, 9:04 GMT

    Three days before,another one sided boring final finished.Atleast NZ could have put up a better fight.I think NZ is not going to win a world cup in ages,Their only chance is when then they are hosting it in Nz.But every time they do that,final will be on Aus and they will loss the advantage from there,bcz in future too,Aus will be there with huge home advantage and Nz without the same.They should have played one match among Aus,Eng in Melbourne.I was happy when Sa lost to Nz narrowly.Now i am regretting about that,May be Sa have a remote chance this time if they come to the finals.No other country can challenge this Aus team in current strength in a final in Australia.But somehow they were not able to stop choking in critical times.Well done Aussies also not well done by all other mediocre teams...

  • micklem on April 1, 2015, 9:02 GMT

    I always preferred watching Cricket over Football.In Football i sees only world cup matches.But this Cricket WC becoming very boring when compared to whose of Football.A lot of riveting and combative matches happening in Football Knockouts.That final between Germany and Argentina was a beauty.In this worldcup only one competitive match happened in Knockouts,NZ vs Sa semifinal.Also lot of unethical proceeding are happening in Cricket nowadays, which is very harmful to the game.

  • fguy on March 31, 2015, 19:28 GMT

    if australians are wondering why the whole world was rooting for the kiwis in the final then you only had to look at the obnoxious behaviour of haddin for a clue. deplorable behaviour. it seems icc will crack down on bad behavior only if its commited by someone who's not aussie.

  • micklem on March 31, 2015, 15:12 GMT

    Reply@ Cpt.Meanster on March 29, 2015 16:57,17:15,17:46&18:11 GMT. Even if this world cup had happened in Asia,then also Aus had chances like any other team.Only Subcontinent teams can't lift a Cup outside Asia in Fast Wickets,Aus surely can do that in Asia in slow wickets.Wicket was heavily supporting indians in the semifinal like any Indian wicket.If that was not that much slow Aus surely had made above 350.Don't forget they won against Pak in Uae and they nearly won aginst Ind in Ind recently.But they failed in that series bcz most of the overs bowled by bowlers like Doherty,Watson,Mckay and Faulkner.They cared only about major tournaments otherwise they would never played with that kind of worst bowling in that tour.Unlike tests Neither Fast Bowlers have high disadvantage nor spinners have major benefits in ODI's happening in Subcontinents.As long as Aus don't put __ Doherty and, if Johnson and Starc plays together, they can beat any team in Subcontinent on their day..

  • micklem on March 31, 2015, 15:11 GMT

    Reply@ Cpt.Meanster on March 29, 2015 16:57,17:15,17:46&18:11 GMT, Most of the pitches happened in Aus in this WC are slow unlike real Aussie pitches and supporting Asian teams.Sa lost to Ind bcz of drop in slow wicket.Eng surely made lot of errors in Gameplan,but they lost to SL and Bangladesh bcz of the same slow wickets.If it was real Australian wickets surely they should have made to the Semis.Eng is the country worstly affected by this uncharacteristic Australian Pitches.

  • micklem on March 31, 2015, 15:08 GMT

    Reply@ Cpt.Meanster on March 29, 2015 16:57,17:15,17:46&18:11 GMT, You are writing only lots and lots of crap.When Nz won against Aus on the Auckland match,lots of peoples including me predicted they will meet again in Final.At that time, i remember you displayed "Beleive me,neither among Aus and Nz will not be there in final on Melbourne.That is the beauty of cricket". But really the beauty of cricket only diplayed by Aus and Nz(to some extent) in this Worldcup.Aus did't won solely on conditions like others.Only they had that advantage in final vs NZ bcz they were great in Nz.Against other teams,they won bcz they were a combative unit,unlike others.

  • sachin_vvsfan on March 31, 2015, 10:24 GMT

    5 WC in 5 continents. Somebody was saying South America and Antarctica are the only continents Aus has not won the WC. But isn't Grenada part of South America? (not sure if there were any matches held in that part of region for Aus in 2007 WC). But it can be said 2007 wc was held in both NA and SA ? So technically Antarctica is the only region Aus has not won the WC then? Will the pitches there assist the spinners or seamers or just Flat tracks? LOL