Australia Women v NZ Women, Quadrangular Series final, Chennai March 5, 2007

Australia ease to six-wicket victory

Australia 181 for 4 (Nitschke 81, Bulow 50) beat New Zealand 177 for 9 (Nicola Browne 41, Pike 3 for 21) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

On the day it mattered, Australia were simply too strong for New Zealand © GNNphoto

Australia batted and bowled a below-par New Zealand side out of the Quadrangular final to wrap up a comprehensive six-wicket win. Incisive bowling by Kirsten Pike and Cathryn Fitzpatrick restricted New Zealand to 177 before Melissa Bulow and Shelley Nitschke, the Australian openers, took the game away with a 120-run partnership.

New Zealand hardly looked like the side that had won five out of their six games and set the highest totals for each ground in the tournament - 291 at IIT Chemplast Ground and 272 at Chepauk. Today's total was their lowest of the series and despite two fifty-run partnerships - one between Suzie Bates and Haidee Tiffen, the other between Sarah Tsukigawa and Nicola Browne - New Zealand never had much of a chance.

Australia struck in the very first over when Fitzpatrick dismissed opener Maria Fahey for a duck. Haidee Tiffen, the New Zealand captain, walked in next and calmed the nerves. She struck the first boundary of the match in the eighth over, upper-cutting Clea Smith's medium-pace to the third-man boundary. In the same over she flicked another boundary behind square and later cover-drove Sampson in the 13th over to bring up New Zealand's 50. Suzie Bates, her partner, was living dangerously - she'd been dropped three times - but New Zealand were comfortably perched at 54 for 1.

That was when the Australian fielders made up for their earlier lapses, running Tiffen out for 32. The fielding continued to improve and Lisa Sthalekar's catch at short midwicket to dismiss Rebecca Rolls seemed to have inspired the rest. Rolls could not keep the ball on the ground attempting a flick off Pike and Sthalekar, stretching to her right, latched on with her fingertips. At 60 for 3 New Zealand were wobbling but Bates' dismissal, after just four more runs added, had them in further trouble. Bates finally ran out of luck, mis-timing a pull straight to Fitzpatrick off Sampson.

Sarah Tsuigawa's battling knock went in vain as Australia wrapped up a comprehensive win © GNNphoto

Pike's seventh over, the 24th of the innings, proved fatal for New Zealand. Sarah McGlashan lofted the first ball over long-on for a one-bounce four but edged the third to gully, while trying to cut. Pike maintained a straight line and Aimee Mason, the next batsman in, edged to the keeper for a first-ball duck. By the end of her 10-over spell, Pike had reduced New Zealand to a miserable 99 for 6.

Sarah Tsukigawa and Nicola Browne staged some sort of revival, adding 58 off 98 balls with seven fours and a six. They attacked the spinners, Sthalekar and Shelley Nitschke, while playing cautiously against Fitzpatrick and Sampson, the two most dangerous bowlers on the day. Sthalekar eventually broke the partnership when she trapped Tsukigawa leg before for 39. Browne added 31 more with Helen Watson before she was caught behind off Fitzpatrick for 41. Pushed against the wall, the New Zealand lower order did well to add 95 runs between them but even then they were way short of a matchwinning total.

Australia's openers came out guns blazing against the insipid New Zealand bowling, Bulow and Nitschke stealing six off the first over. They kept the run-rate at over five-an-over till Bulow was dismissed for a well-paced 50. The New Zealand bowlers didn't have much of an answer as Nitschke found gaps all over the field - cutting to point, driving in front of the wicket and pulling ferociously behind square leg.

Browne's first over, the ninth of the innings, was particularly devastating for New Zealand as Nitschke cracked three consecutive fours off the last three balls to bring up the side's 50. She fell for a run-a-ball 81, with just 35 needed for victory, but Sthalekar, finished off the job with a breezy 32, triggering off the celebrations with a four to third man. Justifiably, after racking up the highest runs in the tournament, she was awarded the Player of the Tournament.

Australia are now world champions as well as Quadrangular champions and New Zealand will have to raise their game considerably to avenge this defeat when they travel to Australia for a five-match Rose Bowl series in July.

Nishi Narayanan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo