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Classic World Cup Moments

Starc removes the McCullum threat

The World Cup final swung in Australia's favour right in the first over

Varun Shetty
Varun Shetty
Before the World Cup final came along in 2015, we witnessed a gigantic shift in how batsmen approached ODI innings. It was only late March when New Zealand faced Australia in their first World Cup final, but there had already been some remarkable attacks in ODIs that year by then. AB de Villiers had made a 30-ball hundred, and then a 66-ball 142 against West Indies. And Luke Ronchi's 99-ball 170 would have been memorable in a similar vein had Martin Guptill not smashed one of the two pre-final ODI double-centuries shortly after.
It was a year for path-breaking aggressive batting, and at least at the start, Brendon McCullum was its biggest promoter. As New Zealand's captain at the time, McCullum's insistence on flat-out, blatant aggression at all times had drawn larger home audiences than usual to get behind the cricket team.
Whether in chasing 124 against England with 37 overs to spare or 152 against Australia with 27 overs and a wicket remaining, McCullum had pioneered a style that had the world watching closely, and perhaps hoping dearly, as they went unbeaten into the final.
But it wasn't to be. In the first over of the final, it became clear McCullum's influence went both ways. When he failed to hit all three balls he faced - flailing and scything until he lost off stump - the nerves rippled through the batting order. Their 183 all out in 45 overs was far removed from everything they had done till then. It might have been the year for aggressive batting, but it was also the year of Mitchell Starc and his inswinging yorker; and at the MCG in late March, he had produced one of his best.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo