It was a tall order for the Kiwis to chase Australia’s 388, but led by Rachin Ravindra’s century (116 off 89 balls) and fifties by Daryl Mitchell (54 off 51) and James Neesham (58 off 39), the New Zealanders tried making a match of it by scoring 383/9 and lost the game off the last ball of the match.
But the run-fest began with Australia openers David Warner and Travis Head, who put on a partnership of 175 runs in just 19 overs to deflate the Kiwi bowling attack, who made a mini comeback through Glenn Phillips’ spell of 3/37.
World Cup 2023: Australia beat NZ by 5 runs
Head, making his World Cup debut, scored a whirlwind 109 off 67 balls and Warner ended up scoring 81 off 65 balls. The duo hit 15 fours and 13 sixes between them.
“Travis Head pata nahi ghar se hi set aaya hai (it seems Head has come into the tournament already well set),” said former Pakistan captain and fast-bowling legend Wasim Akram on new channel ‘A Sports’.
“He was injured, had to wait, but comes in and hits a 59-ball hundred. And good shots, not just slogs, toyed around with the bowlers,” Akram added.
Head fractured his finger in September and had to wait in the wings before recovering and joining the World Cup squad.
He made his ODI debut in 2016 but didn’t get a chance to open batting for siix years. In fact, Head returned to the Australian colours in February 2022 after a three-year absence. And Aaron Finch’s decisions to retire paved way for him to partner Warner at the top in ODIs.
“I think that’s been a spot that I waited for, obviously, with (Finch) playing for such a long period and their partnership being so good,” Head said talking to the media after Ausralia’s win over New Zealand.
“The limited chance I had I was able to take and sort of waited a couple of years for that spot to open up. So that’s never guaranteed and I’ve got to perform, and I’m lucky enough to be able to put a string of a few performances together that hopefully make that a spot where Dave and I have obviously got a great partnership,” Head added.
Five-time champions Australia started his World Cup with two consecutive defeas but have turned that around with four wins in a row to make their way into the top-four bracket.
They will next take on England in Ahmedabad on November 4.