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Departing Australian captain leads his country to World Cup glory

Other SportsBy Neil Fetherston
A jubilant Australia celebrate their win
A jubilant Australia celebrate their win

Michael Clarke hit a supreme 74 as the departing Australian captain led his country to World Cup glory against New Zealand with a seven-wicket victory in Melbourne.

New Zealand, who defeated Australia by one wicket in the pool phase, were all but out of the match after being dismissed for just 183 following captain Brendon McCullum’s decision to bat first, having won the toss.

The writing was on the wall for New Zealand, appearing in their first World Cup final, when McCullum was bowled for a duck in the first over by impressive left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc.

Grant Elliott (83) and Ross Taylor (40) rebuilt the innings with a stand of 111 before New Zealand lost a trio of quick wickets, with Starc and fellow left-arm seamers Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner sharing eight wickets between them.

Australia captain Clarke, playing his last one-day international before he retires from white-ball, but not Test cricket, saw his side to the brink of victory before he was bowled for 74 in his 245th ODI, with the skipper walking off to a standing ovation from a record Melbourne Cricket Ground crowd of 93,013.

Steven Smith, who put on 112 for the third wicket with Clarke, made 56 not out — his fifth successive score of 50 or more this tournament — and hit the winning boundary as Australia finished on 186 for three with a huge 101 balls remaining.

A crowd of 93,013 witnessed Australia claim their fifth world title as a match that promised so much ended up being incredibly one-sided.

New Zealand were always looking for a miracle after being bowled out for a below-par 183 in 45 overs, despite 83 from Grant Elliott – as Mitchell Starc bowled Brendon McCullum for a duck in the first over.

In response, Clarke and Steve Smith shared a 112-run third-wicket partnership as Australia cruised to victory in 34 overs.

McCullum called right at the toss and on a sun-bathed Melbourne Cricket Ground the New Zealand captain understandably chose to bat.

So often the 33-year-old’s own innings sets the tempo of the Black Caps innings and on Sunday it was no different.

Having come out swinging and twice been beaten, McCullum was bowled for a duck by a full, in-swinging Starc delivery that cannoned into off-stump.

It sent the MCG crowd into a fit of delirium as a wicket fell in the first over in a World Cup final for the first time ever.