Clinical Aussies thump New Zealand by 7 wickets

Nagpur: Defending champions Australia dished out a clinical display to outplay Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand and notch up a comprehensive seven-wicket victory with 16 overs to spare, in a group A game of the World Cup here on Friday.

Ricky Ponting`s boys raised their game and proved to be a far superior side in each and every department. This was Ponting`s 24th consecutive victory as Australian captain in World Cups.

With a modest target of 207 to chase, Australian openers Shane Watson (62, 61 balls, 6×4, 1×6) and Brad Haddin (55, 50 balls, 8×4) sent the Kiwi bowlers on a leatherhunt during an opening partnership of 131 in only 18 overs.

This was after the Aussie pacers, led by Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait, produced a hostile spell of fast bowling to decimate the opposition in only 45.1 overs at the Vidarbha Cricket Association ground.

Both Tait (3/35 in 7 overs) and Johnson (4/33 in 9.1 overs) bowled with pace and accuracy which made lives difficult for the opposition batsmen.

The New Zealand team, still disturbed due to the tragedy back home, never looked like competing in the first place.

Their bowlers, especially Hamish Bennett, sprayed all over the place as Watson and Haddin took them to cleaners.

Haddin`s innings was a contrast to his painstaking 29 against Zimbabwe on Monday as he blasted his way to a half century in only 39 balls. This was the wicket-keeper batsman`s 12th half century in 78th ODI.

Watson, who started off slowly after getting reprieve due to Umpires Review (Tim Southee was the bowler), got into the act and literally toyed with slower bowlers like Daniel Vettori and Nathan McCullum.

Watson produced some typical slogs with great effect on the way to his 21st fifty.

By the time, Haddin holed out in the deep off Hamish Bennett, and Watson played on, the writing was on the wall for New Zealand. Ponting (12) again failed to deliver but victory was just a formality then.

Earlier, Nathan McCullum stood tall amidst the ruins with a fighting half century. Courtesy Nathan`s (52, 76 balls, 3×4) rearguard action, New Zealand were able to cross the 200-run mark after Aussie bowlers blew away the top-six within 17 overs with 73 on board.

He shared 48 runs for the seventh wicket with Jamie How (22) and 54 with Vettori (44, 43 balls, 5×4).

After overnight rain, Ponting elected to field as conditions were bit overcast. Ideally, he would have liked his speedsters to extract all the help available from the strip.