Australia’s clinical efforts keep New Zealand contained

By Staff Reporter - March 15, 2020

Sydney: Australia produced a retro performance worthy of their throwback uniforms to beat New Zealand and snap their ODI losing streak at an eerie Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday.

The Aussies took out the Gillette ODI Series opener by 71 runs behind closed doors following Cricket Australia’s decision to lock out fans in response to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.

Defending 258 after more middle-order troubles, Australia bowled out New Zealand for 187 in the 41st over.

Leg-spinner Adam Zampa produced the highlight of the evening when he bamboozled Black Caps captain Kane Williamson with a perfect wrong’un that dipped, spun sharply through the gate and lit up the Zings stumps.

The Australian victory ended a five-match losing streak and kept New Zealand without a 50-over win over Australia on these shores since 2009.

However, on Friday morning the match itself was up in the air amid the escalating concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

CA got on the front foot and decided to prevent fans from attending, only to have a scare closer to home when fast bowler Kane Richardson was sent for tests after reporting a mild sore throat.

Richardson was quarantined from his teammates but after the COVID-19 tests returned negative results, he traveled to the SCG to watch Australia wrap up the win.

While the players performed at an elite level, there was no hiding the flat feeling around the venue without fans in the stands and the serious health issues impacting communities around the world.

But there was a game of cricket to be played, and after Aaron Finch won the toss and told Spidercam his side would bat first, the right-hander and his left-handed opening partner David Warner combined for their 10th century stand for Australia.

Only the legendary pair of Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden have more ODI century stands opening the batting for Australia, and the 124-run effort from Finch and Warner on Friday looked to have set a solid foundation for a 300-plus score.

But when both openers fell in the space of five overs – Warner for 67, Finch for 60 – Australia’s line-up could not cut loose against a disciplined Blacks Caps bowling unit.

It was left to Marnus Labuschagne, who batted at No.5 behind the promoted D’Arcy Short, to rally the hosts to 7-258 with 56, as Australia added just 64 in the final 10 overs.

The modest total was never challenged by the visitors, who lost regular wickets against Australia’s well-rounded attack.

Josh Hazlewood made the initial breakthrough of Henry Nicholls in the 10th over with the score just 28 before Zampa unfurled the type of googly that will be replayed thousands of times on YouTube to remove New Zealand’s best batter and captain.

After scoring 27 from 34 balls with the bat, Marsh picked up 3-29 with the ball, while Pat Cummins was the pick of the bowlers with 3-25.

When Cummins captured the final wicket, the Australians and Kiwis swapped fist bumps with not a handshake in sight.

The next match is scheduled for Sunday, again at the SCG and again behind closed doors.

By Staff Reporter

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