Michael Hussey was once again the star of the show as Australia defeated New Zealand by two wickets here in the fifth Tri-Series one-day international yesterday.
The middle-order run machine guided Australia home after they had lost three early wickets chasing 219 for victory. New Zealand were bowled out for just 218 but Australia edged home with only eight balls to spare. Michael Clarke made 75 while Hussey was 65 not out after hitting a Nathan Astle delivery for six to seal Australia's latest victory. Craig McMillan top-scored for New Zealand with 89 after helping the Kiwis recover from 136 for 7 to post a competitive score.
Ricky Ponting lavished praise on Hussey, who enhanced his reputation as the team's "finisher" with his 10th one-day international half-century.
"He has managed to win a lot of games off his own bat whether it be in Test matches or controlling one-day games," Ponting said.
Comparisons have been drawn between Hussey and Michael Bevan, Australia's past master of closing games out, and Ponting added: "[Hussey] is a very good finisher and someone has asked me whether he has stepped into the Bevan mould and he is doing as well as Bevan ever did."
Ponting was not happy with his side's all-round display. "There's no doubt we haven't played that great in our last couple of games but we've still managed to win," he said.
"If there is an area of improvement it's with our top order because the middle order is doing its job."
Scoreboard from Sydney
New Zealand won toss
*S P Fleming c Hussey b Clark 12
N J Astle c Gilchrist b Lee 0
H J H Marshall c Gilchrist b Lee 0
R L Taylor c Hussey b Clark 26
P G Fulton c Hayden b Clark 19
ÝC D McMillan c and b McGrath 89
B B McCullum lbw b McGrath 15
D L Vettori c Ponting b Clark 6
J E C Franklin c Hayden b McGrath 18
M R Gillespie not out 6
M J Mason b Bracken 4
Extras (b2 lb12 w5 nb4) 23
Total (47.4 overs) 218
Fall: 1-5 2-7 3-38 4-53 5-84 6-126 7-136 8-193 9-205.
Bowling: Lee 10-1-43-2; Bracken 8.4-2-33-1; McGrath 10-1-24-3; Clark 10-1-54-4. Symonds 8-0-44-0; White 1-0-6-0.
ÝA C Gilchrist c McCullum b Franklin 3
M L Hayden c Taylor b Mason 0
M J Clarke c Taylor b Vettori 75
*R T Ponting lbw b Mason 5
A Symonds b Vettori 38
M E K Hussey not out 65
C L White c Fulton b Gillespie 5
B Lee c Marshall b Gillespie 2
N W Bracken c Taylor b McMillan 14
S R Clark not out 1
Extras (lb6 w4 nb6) 16
Total (for 8, 48.4 overs) 224
Fall: 1-6 2-6 3-17 4-77 5-167 6-175 7-198 8-217.
Did not bat: G D McGrath.
Bowling: Mason 10-2-46-2; Franklin 10-1-47-1; Gillespie 10-2-34-2; Vettori 10-0-41-2; Astle 2.4-0-22-0; McMillan 6-0-28-1.
Australia win by two wickets
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and S J A Taufel (Aus).
P W L T NR Pts RR
Australia 4 4 0 0 0 18 1.01
England 3 1 2 0 0 4 -0.51
New Zealand 3 0 3 0 0 0 -0.80