Wed, Mar 30, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Australia routs Kiwis, wraps up series

THE GREATEST This Australian side could easily be the greatest of all time, and they were hailed as a ``once in a lifetime'' team by New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming

AFP , AUCKLAND

Australian batsman Justin Langer, right, sweeps a ball fine for runs while wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum looks on, as Australia defeats New Zealand on the fourth day of the third Test, played at Eden Park in Auckland. Australia won the match by nine wickets and the series 2-0.

PHOTO: AFP

Australia completed their rout of New Zealand with an emphatic nine-wicket win in the third Test with a day to spare yesterday, comfortably wrapping up the series 2-0, and underscoring their reputation as one of the greatest cricket sides ever.

In a frantic chase to beat rain and fading light, captain Ricky Ponting blasted an unbeaten 86 at a run-a-ball pace and Justin Langer was on 59 when they reached their 164-run target in the 30th over under the Eden Park floodlights.

The only wicket to fall was that of Matthew Hayden, run out for nine by a Daniel Vettori direct hit from mid off, as Australia set out determined to wrap up the Test in four days rather than risk the weather today after being denied victory in the second Test because of rain.

While the jury is still out on whether this Australian side is definitely the greatest of all time, they were hailed as a "once in a lifetime" team by New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming.

"It was a mauling," Fleming said as he summed up the series.

"I'm disappointed that we couldn't put up more of a fight. There are plenty of reasons and excuses but the criticism's got to be taken on the chin -- we were just well and truly outplayed by a great group of players in a once in a lifetime team," he said.

The manner in which Australia dealt to New Zealand underlined the vast gulf between the trans-Tasman neighbors which Ponting readily acknowledged.

"We've set very high standards over a long period of time and I think we've lived up to those standards," he said.

As much as Fleming tried to slow the game down, hoping the inclement weather would intervene, Ponting stepped up the pace walloping 86 from 84 balls including 12 fours and two sixes. Langer chimed in with 59 from 76 balls including 10 fours.

New Zealand had been outclassed in the series and a late revival in their second innings, moving from 23 for four to be all out for 254, was never going to be enough.

Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne took four wickets apiece, with McGrath left stranded on 499 Test wickets when he bowled Paul Wiseman for 23 to end the New Zealand innings.

The day started as bleak as it finished for New Zealand with Fleming out early for three and Hamish Marshall for seven.

When Fleming was caught and bowled by Gillespie it ended a miserable series for the New Zealand captain where he scored a total of 104 runs at 17.33.

Nathan Astle, Lou Vincent, Vettori and Wiseman brought some respectability to the score.

Astle and Vincent put on 70 for the fifth wicket, and after Vincent and Brendon McCullum both went with the score at 93, Astle combined with Vettori to add 81 for the seventh wicket.

Vincent was out for 40 when he chanced a single against the deadly arm of Michael Clarke and found himself meters short of the crease.

Warne captured Astle's wicket, caught close in by Simon Katich for 69 including 11 fours and a six.

Vettori continued his excellent allround series, reaching 65 off 108 balls with eight boundaries and adding another 46 with James Franklin for the eighth wicket.

But after Franklin departed for 23, Vettori hit out against Warne and was caught by McGrath in the deep.

That catch ruled out the possibility of McGrath reaching 500 Test dismissals in this match, and he fittingly has the chance to reach the magical milestone at the home of cricket in the first Ashes Test at Lords in July.

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