Early Brendon McCullum exit proved to be huge blow for New Zealand
This was not how the script was supposed to run for Brendon McCullum, the personification of the aggressive cricket that had taken New Zealand to their first World Cup final.
Melbourne: This was not how the script was supposed to run for Brendon McCullum, the personification of the aggressive cricket that had taken New Zealand to their first World Cup final.
With 328 runs, an extraordinary strike rate of more than 191, 44 fours and 17 sixes, the Black Caps captain had led by fearless example as the co-hosts took the tournament by storm.
His day`s work at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Sunday started well enough when he won what many thought would be a crucial toss and elected to go in with Martin Guptill and take on Australia`s pace bowlers.
With the anthems done and dusted, the crowd settled down in anticipation of another of the opening bombardments with which McCullum had taken apart new-ball attack after new-ball attack.
Australia`s Mitchell Starc, who had taken a wicket every 16.7 balls coming into the match, had other ideas and the duel was nasty, brutish, and short.
Brought onto strike by a single from Guptill from the second ball of the opening over of the innings, McCullum swung and missed the first two deliveries he faced from the lanky left-arm paceman.
Another fullish inswinger from Starc elicited a slightly more tentative stroke, again the bat was by-passed and the ball clattered into McCullum`s off stump.
He was Starc`s 21st victim of the World Cup but in cricket, all wickets are not equal and both the bowler`s celebration and the roar generated by the crowd of more than 93,000 indicated this one was very special.
The batsman of the tournament was trudging back to the dressing room with his first duck in nine matches, the first captain to be dismissed without scoring a run in a title decider.
Starc, later named the Player of the Tournament for his 22 wickets at an average of 10.18, revealed it had been a planned sequence of deliveries cooked up with Australia`s bowling coach.
"There were plenty of nerves but it was a little plan Craig McDermott and I have been working on for a couple of days," he said.
"It was just nice to see it come off, and to happen in front of a packed MCG was amazing."
New Zealand lost two more wickets before the 13th over was done and, despite the 111 Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott put on for the fourth wicket, were unable to build a platform from which to launch an attack on Australia`s bowling.
Elliott departed for 83 as New Zealand lost their last four wickets for the addition of 16 runs and their vaunted bowling attack were left defending a total of just 183, the second lowest tally in the first innings of a 50-over World Cup final.
Australia overhauled the tally in less than 34 overs to claim their fifth world title.
"He was a bit too good for me today, that`s for sure," McCullum said of Starc.
"Yeah, look, he deserves the man of the tournament for me. He was outstanding, bowled at good pace, he swung the ball late, and he was incredibly accurate all the way along."