Usman Khawaja’s dogged 88 and a five-wicket haul for Mitchell Starc steered Australia to an 86-run World Cup victory over rivals New Zealand at Lord’s.
Trent Boult bagged the Black Caps’ first ever World Cup hat-trick, but that masterful final-over treble wound up a mere footnote amid this tournament’s latest botched run chase.
Starc claimed five wickets for 26 runs in another fine exhibition of seam bowling to punish the below-par New Zealand batting.
Australia’s seventh win in eight matches pushed them three points clear of India at the top of the standings, with just South Africa left to play in the round-robin stage.
New Zealand threw this game away in truth, failing to deliver a killer blow having bloodied Australian noses by reducing Aaron Finch’s men to 92 for five in the 22nd over.
David Warner, captain Finch, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell all failed to make a dent on Australia’s scoreboard, with Lockie Ferguson and Jimmy Neesham taking two wickets apiece.
Alex Carey’s 71 lent Khawaja the support he needed to pilot Australia out of trouble, and onwards to yet another impressive win.
That Boult’s hat-trick was rendered immaterial to the outcome must surely rankle both bowler and team however, even though the result here alters little with the semi-finals just around the corner.
The feat of the hat-trick still remains a startling sight though, and this was produced in style at the death of Australia’s innings.
First Boult castled Khawaja, then he clean bowled Starc too.
And with the hat-trick on the line, Boult trapped Jason Behrendorff leg before, in a fine example of death bowling.
Hat-trick aside, New Zealand let Australia off the hook though after such a punishing start – and paid full penalty.
Australia’s 243 for nine had looked slightly shy of par, but not once New Zealand came to the crease.
Another testing pitch caused the Black Caps a host of problems, but this was the latest in a string of tentative run chases for this competition.
New Zealand limped along throughout, unable to push their run rate even up to four an over.
Add frequent wicket concession to that snail’s pace then, and the Black Caps at no point looked like pulling off their chase.
Captain Kane Williamson top-scored but only managed 40, and after he and Lyle Taylor had departed for 30, the Kiwis collapsed to 157 all out.