By Saikat Chatterjee
LONDON (Reuters) – Trent Boult became the first New Zealand bowler to claim a hat-trick in the World Cup but it could not stop champions Australia still cruising to an 86-run victory in Saturday’s rematch of the 2015 final between the trans-Tasman rivals at Lord’s.
Boult dismissed Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff in successive deliveries but he was later to be upstaged by Australian match-winner Starc, who became the first bowler ever to earn three World Cup ‘five-fors’.
Australia, who had been reeling at 92-5 in the 22nd over, managed to post a competitive 243-9 after electing to bat and it turned out that each of Boult’s three late hat-trick victims played significant part in their victory.
Khawaja (88), who was dropped at slip before he could open his account, and Alex Carey (71) had combined to arrest their slide before Bolt (4-51) wrecked their lower order.
Behrendorff then dealt early blows before Starc spearheaded New Zealand’s rout, claiming 5-26 as the Kiwis were shot out for 157 in the 44th over with not one of their players managing a half-century.
It was the third time the Australian left-arm strike bowler had taken five wickets in a World Cup innings, following his 5-46 against West Indies at Nottingham earlier in the tournament and his 6-28 also against New Zealand in Auckland in 2015.
“(It was) a great partnership from Alex Carey and Usman Khawaja on a wicket we knew would turn,” Australia captain Aaron Finch, who had a rare failure with the bat, said afterwards.
“I think it was important that we got some time in the middle, but not in the way we did. It was a difficult wicket to start on, and the way Alex came in and hit the ball was excellent. It was not easy to time the ball.”
Australia, who had already secured a place in the semi-finals, remain on top with 14 points from eight matches, three points ahead of India who have played six.
New Zealand remain third with 11 points from eight matches but their second successive defeat leaves their qualification still not assured.
“What we needed was one major 100-plus partnership where we could soak up some pressure and turn the momentum our way,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
“It wasn’t to be today. We have to pick ourselves up and move on.”
Earlier, Finch’s decision to bat first appeared to backfire as Boult dismissed the in-form opener in the fifth over.
The champions lost four more wickets before reaching 100 but it could easily have been worse if Martin Guptill had not spilled Khawaja in the slips when the batsman was yet to open his account.
Carey and Khawaja then rebuilt the Australian innings with a sixth-wicket stand of 107, which Williamson broke when he had Carey caught at cover.
Boult claimed the tournament’s second hat-trick, after India’s Mohammed Shami achieved the feat against Afghanistan, but Australia put enough on board for their bowlers.
The Australians bowled with lot of purpose and Behrendorff denied New Zealand a strong start, dismissing both the openers, Henry Nicholls and Guptill, cheaply.
Key batsman Williamson and Ross Taylor (30) tried to steady the innings but the wheels came off their innings after the Kiwi captain’s attempt to play his trademark dab shot resulted in his dismissal for 40.
Starc then mowed down the New Zealand lower order to consolidate his position as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 24 victims and maintain his own personl push to be crowned player of the tournament for a second successive World Cup.
(Writing by Amlan Chakraborty, editing by Ian Chadband)