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06-Oct-2009 02:27:00 GMT
Aus v NZ, CT final, Centurion

Watson Ton Powers Australia to Defend Champions Trophy

Centurion: Australia were crowned the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy winner after Shane Watson's unbeaten century guided the defending champions to a six-wicket victory over a depleted New Zealand in the low-scoring final match on Monday.

Watson hit an unbeaten 129-ball 105 (10X4, 4X6) and starred in a 128-run stand with Cameron White (62) under tremendous pressure as Australia, chasing 201 against New Zealand's never-say-die pacers, overcame a wobbly start to reach 206/4 in 45.2 overs.

Earlier, a rudderless New Zealand, sans their injured skipper Daniel Vettori, fumbled and faltered their way to 200/9.

The Kiwis had just two decent partnerships in their innings but Martin Guptill (40) and Aaron Redmond (26) took 15.1 overs to raise 61 runs for the second wicket, while Neil Broom (37) and James Franklin (33) added 65 in 14.1 overs, which underlined their struggle in the middle.

For Australia, Nathan Hauritz claimed 3/37.

Considering Australia's batting might, the match seemed to have all the ingredients of a lop-sided show but Shane Bond and Kyle Mills injected drama by dealing early blows that jolted Australia out of any complacency they had.

Shane Bond's second delivery removed Tim Paine (1) and Mills then trapped in-form Ricky Ponting (1) in the next over to reduce Australia to six for two wickets inside three overs.

And New Zealand pacers maintained the same pressure as Australia crawled to 34/2 after 15 overs, an austerity they are not accustomed to.

Watson and White did not panic and ran hard between wickets, while helping themselves to the occasional boundary. The duo paced the chase with utmost maturity, first weathering the crisis and then opening up.

Mills eventually returned to remove White but the stand had yielded 128 precious runs by then and even Michael Hussey's (11) wicket came too late as Australia had pocketed the match by then.

Watson wrapped it up in style, hitting two successive sixes to romp home.

Earlier, Vettori's last minute pullout with a hamstring injury was just the start of New Zealand's woes and they never got going after opting to bat first at the SuperSport Park.

As if losing Jacob Oram, Daryl Tuffey and Jesse Ryder at different stages of the tournament was not bad enough, the Kiwis walked out in the middle without their inspirational captain and man-in-form Vettori.

This was a mighty blow for the Kiwis as Vettori was New Zealand's leading wicket-taker in the tournament with seven scalps under his belt besides leading their batting averages.

In his absence, Brendon McCullum took over the captaincy reins and Jeetan Patel was drafted in the playing XI but New Zealand were clearly not the same force.

McCullum opted to bat first but to his horror, by the time the match was into its 27th over, the Kiwi top order was cooling their heels in the hut.

McCullum himself let the team down when it mattered most.

Not a single run came off the bat in the first two overs as McCullum scratched around before returning for a duck when Peter Siddle ended his 14-ball struggle to get off the mark.

Life was not easy for Guptill and Redmond either with the Australian pacers maintaining a stifling line and length and their fielders ensuring there were no freebies.

Guptill hit Mitchell Johnson for two fours in the same over in a rare moment of aggression but it took him and Redmond 15.1 overs to raise those 61 runs before they were hit by the next setback with Nathan Hauritz getting a distinctly uncomfortable Redmond stumped.

Situation demanded patience and Guptill had got the start as well but the Kiwi batsman made a complete mess of it, offering a tame return catch to Hauritz to leave his team tottering at 77/3 and the crisis was not over yet.

Michael Hussey took a blinder off Johnson to remove Ross Taylor (6) in the next over and then Brett Lee trapped in-form Grant Elliot (9) to polish off the Kiwi top half.

Broom and Franklin tried to put things in order but both perished just when they had started to open up and New Zealand barely managed the 200-mark.    

Brief score
New Zealand: 200 for 9 (Guptill 40, Hauritz 3-37, Lee 2-45)
Australia: 206 for 4 (Watson 105*, White 62, Mills 3-27)
Result: Australia beat New Zealand by six wickets
Player of the match: Shane Watson (Australia)
Player of the series: Ricky Ponting (Australia)
Series: Australia won the 2009/10 ICC Champions Trophy

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