After a disastrous start to the summer, Australia have finally turned the tide. They have beaten New Zealand for the second straight ODI and regained the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy after losing it to the Kiwis in their group stage game of the 2015 ICC World Cup.
Australia had the momentum going into the second ODI of the series. They beat New Zealand in the first game by 68 runs after a dashing century by their skipper, Steve Smith. New Zealand were eager to level the series heading into the game at Canberra. They won the toss and sent Australia to bat.
The Aussie batsmen continued their good form as Warner scored an impressive ton of 119 from 115 balls, his sixth century of 2016. He was assisted well by Smith, who scored 72 and the pair shared a partnership of 145 in the second wicket. From 252/3 after 40 overs, Australia scored 126 in the last 10 overs, as Head(57) and Marsh(76) went off late in the innings and helped the team register a massive total of 378/5. Southee picked up two wickets for the Kiwis while Boult, Santner and Grandhomme shared a wicket each.
Chasing 378, the Kiwis kick-started their innings in style, as the openers Guptill and Latham scored 40 in just 5.4 overs. Their partnership came to an end after Hazlewood dismissed Latham. Guptill(45) was also send packing by Cummins in the ninth over. 52/2 after 8.3 overs and New Zealand were teetering in the game. Enter Neesham and skipper Williamson.
The duo scored 125 runs in the third wicket keeping the hopes of the Kiwis alive. Hazlewood returned to the attack in the 31st over and dismissed Neesham(74). Following that, Faulkner removed Munro and Starc removed Grandhomme from the attack. Williamson, after a knock of 81 off balls was sent packing by Cummins after Warner caught him at extra cover. 232/6 after 39.1 overs and Australia were edging closer towards victory.
Wickets kept tumbling and Australia wrapped up New Zealand’s innings at 262 in 47.2 overs, winning the game by 116 runs. Cummins was the most successful bowler, picking up four wickets while Faulkner, Hazlewood and Starc shared two wickets each.
During the award ceremony, Williamson said that the death overs hurt his side a lot. Smith lauded the efforts of Warner, Head and Marsh with the bat and Cummin’s work with the ball. The man of the match award went to Warner for his brilliant knock of 119.
Australia have reversed their luck. They started the summer woefully after being whitewashed 5-0 at South Africa in the ODI series. They lost the test series at home but came back to get a consolation victory in the third test. The win in the third test enabled the team to regain confidence.
The seniors have played their part well in this series, with the captain (Smith) and vice captain (Warner) scoring tons in consecutive matches. Mitch Marsh and Travis Head have been consistent with the bat as well. Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins have bowled superbly in both the matches taking wickets to pile up pressure on the Kiwi batsmen whenever needed. They will head to Melbourne for the last ODI of the series on Friday knowing that they have already bagged the series.
It will be a long summer for the Aussies. Moving forward, they will face Pakistan at home for three tests and five ODIs before heading off to New Zealand in late January for three ODIs. Regaining the Chappell-Hadlee trophy will certainly boost their morale for now. But their true test lies in winning the away series against the Kiwis in late January and February of 2017. Before that, they need to dispatch Pakistan at home. Should they continue their current form, it will not be difficult for Australia to do so.