Australia win World Cup in Clarke's fitting farewell

Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:22am EDT
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By John Mehaffey

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Michael Clarke signed off from one-day internationals with 74 as a dominant Australia won their fifth cricket World Cup after crushing New Zealand by seven wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday.

New Zealand, playing in their first final after succumbing six times in the semis, suffered a body blow in the opening over from Mitchell Starc when captain Brendon McCullum was bowled without scoring from the third ball he faced.

A fourth wicket partnership of 111 between Ross Taylor (40) and Grant Elliott (83) appeared to restore New Zealand's fortunes although runs came slowly against a hostile, accurate pace attack with Starc in outstanding form.

The paceman was ably supported Australia's two other left-arm fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner who picked up three wickets apiece.

New Zealand had reached 150 for three with 15 overs remaining when Faulkner struck twice in the first over of the batting powerplay. He dismissed Taylor caught behind and bowled the potentially dangerous Corey Anderson for a duck two balls later.

The remaining wickets fell swiftly and New Zealand were bowled out for 183 with five overs remaining. It was the lowest first innings score in a 50 overs World Cup final since Australia disposed of Pakistan for 132 at Lord's in 1999.

Trent Boult raised New Zealand's spirits temporarily by holding a simple return catch from Aaron Finch before the Australian opener had scored.

David Warner responded by striking Tim Southee for three consecutive fours and raced to 45 from 46 deliveries when he hooked Matt Henry to Elliott.   Continued...

Australia's captain Michael Clarke celebrates reaching fifty runs during the Cricket World Cup final match against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) March 29, 2015.      REUTERS/Jason Reed