Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Hussey guides Australia to tight victory

Australia 8 for 224 (Clarke 75, Hussey 65*) beat New Zealand 218 (McMillan 89, Clark 4-54, McGrath 3-24) by 2 wickets

Michael Hussey again finished a difficult job for his team, taking Australia to victory against New Zealand with two wickets to spare. Hussey's unbeaten 65 was the key in a tight run-chase of 219 and he brought up the win with a six in the 49th over.

New Zealand pushed Australia to the very end but their decision to play only four bowlers cost them dearly as Craig McMillan and Nathan Astle proved too easy to score off in the dying overs. McMillan had already done his part with 89 in New Zealand's 219 but Hussey and Michael Clarke (75) earned Australia their fourth win of the series.

Clarke's dismissal in the 38th over triggered a mini-collapse as Cameron White and Brett Lee fell soon after and when Nathan Bracken was caught with two runs required the outcome was still uncertain. But Hussey pulled Astle over square leg for six to end another matchwinning innings.

The visitors played an extra batsman with Hamish Marshall replacing Jeetan Patel and the move backfired on two counts. Marshall made 0 in another disappointing team effort and in the dying overs Stephen Fleming was forced to use part-time medium-pacers when his four strikers were bowled out.

Defending New Zealand's below-par total was always going to require a flawless performance in the field. Instead, they repeatedly gave lives to Clarke and Hussey and failed to capitalise on a terrific opening that had Australia at 3 for 17.

The most telling error was a shambolic attempted run out when both batsmen almost ended up at the striker's end. With the score on 4 for 116, Clarke pushed into the off side and took off for a single before halting but Hussey kept coming and should have been caught well short at the bowler's end. Marshall fumbled several times before ending up sprawled on the pitch and flicking the ball back to Daniel Vettori who broke the stumps with his hand rather than the ball with Hussey short of his ground.

The mistake not only allowed Hussey, who was 18 at the time, to continue through the innings but it also demoralised the tourists at a critical moment. Clarke was dropped on 17 and again on 42 and holding either chance could have put New Zealand back on top. The first was a simple outfield opportunity when James Franklin spilled a top-edged hook at deep backward square leg. The second was an inside edge to Brendon McCullum, standing up to the stumps, off Franklin's bowling.

When Clarke gave his third chance, a skied opportunity that Ross Taylor took on the second bite at midwicket, he had already hurt the visitors and taken Australia within 52 runs of victory. Clarke and Andrew Symonds (38) steadied Australia after the home team stumbled to 3 for 17 from six overs.

Adam Gilchrist flayed at an extra wide Franklin outswinger and was caught behind for 3 and Matthew Hayden continued his disappointing series with a drive in the air to cover for 0. Ponting, who batted at No. 4 to allow Clarke a promotion, was lbw for 5 to a Michael Mason ball that jagged back off an uneven strip on the pitch.

New Zealand also started poorly and it was only through McMillan's innings - his best ODI score since 2002 - that they recovered from 4 for 54. McMillan's 87-ball innings featured three sixes - one was a spectacular cut shot over backward point off Lee - and he made the most of a lucky break when he was given not out on 1 despite replays suggesting he edged behind.

McMillan and Franklin added 57 in a 39-ball eighth-wicket partnership that restored some dignity to the New Zealand scorecard but Glenn McGrath (3 for 24) and Stuart Clark (4 for 54) ensured the total did not get out of hand.

The visitors were unable to bat out the 50 overs and their inability to compile a consistent, professional batting effort was again underlined. The top order remained a concern as Lee's opening spell shattered any hopes of a solid foundation. New Zealand were 2 for 7 as Lee had both openers caught behind with fast, swinging deliveries.

Australia 2nd innings Partnerships

6ML HaydenAC Gilchrist
0ML HaydenMJ Clarke
11RT PontingMJ Clarke
60A SymondsMJ Clarke
90MEK HusseyMJ Clarke
8MEK HusseyCL White
23B LeeMEK Hussey
19MEK HusseyNW Bracken
7MEK HusseySR Clark

Australian Tri Series (CB Series)