New Zealand arrived at Perth with 1 point ahead of England for their game against Australia who've already marched into the finals with three games still to go. Nathan Bracken and McGrath came back replacing Brad Hogg and Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson was retained. Nathan Astle who has called it a day make way for Lou Vincent who was not selected for the series earlier following his dismal performance in Champions Trophy late last year. Kyle Mills who has just recovered from injury was included along with two spinners in Jeetan Patel n Daniel Vettori.
The scorching day saw Australia loosing Gilchrist early. But Hayden n Ponting recovered from it quickly and were making merry of the missed chances by the Kiwis. Such was the dominance of the pair that made Fleming to take the second powerplay as late as in 20th over with Aussies looking solid at 97/1. And with still no success coming in from Flemings bowlers, the partenership flourished further. Fleming took the last powerplay in 34th over. By that time Aussies were already standing tall at 181/1. This loosened up Hayden n Ponting a bit more as Australia started scoring at more than 10 an over. Hayden falls in last over of 3rd powerplay but by then he has already amassed 117 off just 111 balls. Lady Luck was at his shoulder all day and he made NZ pay and pay hard for their lapses. Ponting also reached his century in no time and his colossal inning was also ended in 44th over with Aussie looking comfortable at 275/3 and 350 in sight. Symonds n Clarke pitched in with utility knocks but it was Hussey who provided the spurt at the end to an inning set by Hayden n Ponting. No prizes for telling he remained unbeaten again. Australia finished at 343 for 5 and New Zealand had a massive challenge on their hands.
New Zealand needing 344 at 6.88 runs per over started positively against a power-packed attack that comprises the likes of McGrath, Lee, Bracken n Johnson. Runs were coming steadily and that makes Ponting switch his bowlers more often. Its not everyday when McGrath is hit for six in his first over. But what follows it was not surprising as McGrath gets the breakthrough for Australia in his second over. New Zealand scored 76/1 in first 15 overs which was more than enough but not today when they were 344 and the asking rate now was 7.60 per over. Soon after, Vincent scored a fifty in his comeback match at a fast clip too. He fitted into Astle's boots rather snugly. But after his fall, it was left to middle order comprising of McMillan, Oram n McCullum to undo the damage. The required run rate kept pitching up and wickets were falling at regular intervals with Ponting make use of seasonal Michael Clarke's spin. At 5 down, NZ had Oram n McCullum in the middle who had other plans to end their day as they started hitting Australians hard and runs started coming in 4s n 6s. But that was not enough for their team as they still needed 88 runs from last 8 overs when rain stopped play. At that time they were clear 24 runs short of what would have required to win the match if D/L method had come into picture. This was a shame because Oram had just switched into overdrive and building solid momentum. But the crowd's prayers were answered as the play resumed without any modified target. All eyes were on Oram as NZ was hoping an improbable victory needing 11 runs an over. As someone pointed out after Australian innings that someone needed to score a massive hundred if New Zealand are going to get close to the target. It did come from mighty Oram who almost took the match away from Australia as NZ finished just 8 runs short of target. Oram remained unbeaten for 101 off 72 balls and the partenership flourished for 137 runs that came in 88 balls. Surprisingly it was McGrath's superb yorkers to stem the run flow. But that also couldn't stop him conceding 72 runs off his quota of 10 overs with only 1 wicket to his name. John Buchanan had mentioned that Australia wanted a fight and they certainly got one yesterday. Jacob Oram stretched them to the limit and New Zealand finished on 335 for 5.
Australia: 343/5 (Hayden 117, Ponting 111, Vettori 1/34, Patel 1/67)
New Zealand: 335/5 (Vincet 66, Oram 101*, McCullum 46*, Clarke 2/48, McGrath 1/72)