London: Pace spearhead Trent Boult’s historic hat-trick went in vain as Mitchell Starc’s brilliant five-for helped Australia crush trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand by 86 runs in a World Cup match here and consolidate their spot at the top.
In what was a rematch of the 2015 final between the trans-Tasman rivals at Lord’s on Saturday, Kiwi left-arm pacer Boult hogged the limelight with a sensational last-over hat-trick to stop Australia’s rebuilding job at 243 for nine.
With his swinging full-pitched deliveries, Boult sent back the well-settled Usman Khawaja (88 off 129 balls), Micthell Starc and Jason Behrendorff, while giving away just two runs of the last over to become the first Kiwi to grab a hat-trick in the World Cup.
But New Zealand, who are yet to qualify for the semifinals, crumbled in front of Starc, tournament’s best bowler so far, who returned with brilliant figures of 5 for 26, and were bundled out for 157 in 43.4 overs.
By virtue of the win, defending champions Australia, who are already through to the semifinals, have consolidated their position at the top with 14 points from eight games.
Australia will finish their league campaign against already-eliminated South Africa on 6 July.
New Zealand have now dropped to the third spot with 11 points from eight games and are yet to confirm their berth in the knock-out round. They will take on tournament hosts England in their crucial last game on 3 July.
Chasing Australia’s total, the Kiwis were dealt early blows by Jason Behrendorff (2/31) as he removed both David Warner and Aaron Finch before Starc joined the party. Skipper Kane Williamson (40) and Ross Taylor (30) tried hard but came out second-best as New Zealand suffered its second loss in the tournament.
Earlier, Boult (4/51 in 10 overs) struck after Khawaja and Alex Carey (71 off 72 balls) scored contrasting fifties to lift Australia from a disastrous start after opting to bat. Australia lost half their side with less than 100 runs on the board, but a 107-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Khawaja and Carey helped them rebuild.
It was a rare occasion when the opening duo of Warner and Finch, in red-hot from entering this game, failed to fire. While Finch (8) was the first to go, tapped in front by Boult, Warner departed after making 16 to leave Australia in a spot of bother at 38 for two in the 10th over, and it became worse when Steve Smith was sent back by Lockie Ferguson with the scorecard reading a precarious 46 for three in the 12th over.
Marcus Stoinis (21) and Khawaja attempted a recovery act before Jimmy Neesham derailed it. Glenn Maxwell flopped again, this time failing to even open his account as Australia stared down the barrel. Australia were in dire need of a partnership and Carey and Khawaja provided just that with a century stand. Carey smashed 11 boundaries during his fluent knock, while Khawaja found the fence five times during his sedate innings.