MELBOURNE: Australia on Sunday clinched the World Cup for the fifth time, thrashing New Zealand by seven wickets to provide a perfect farewell gift to skipper Michael Clarke, who played a key role with a 74-run knock in his final ODI appearance.
After the bowlers produced a clinical performance skittling out New Zealand for 183, the stage was set for the Australian captain, who used the platform to the fullest with a stylish 72-ball innings as the hosts regained the trophy winning the match in 33.1 overs — ending an eight-year wait.
The moment Steve Smith (56) hit the winning runs, the entire Australian team was out in the ground delirious in joy celebrating the very special achievement.
All performers yearn for a stage as grand as the World Cup final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Clarke got his walking out as a hero with the entire MCG giving him a standing ovation once he was dismissed after getting his team to the doorstep of victory.
It was a touching sight to find all his teammates standing at the boundary line to greet him.
Clarke added 112 runs in the company of his deputy Smith (56) and it looked as if the skipper was passing on the team’s baton to his heir apparent.
Having announced his retirement from ODIs a day before the finals, it was a free-spirited Clarke in action.
The drives flowed from his bat, the footwork was as immaculate as ever and so was the manner in which he charged out to the spinners. Each and every shot was greeted with thunderous applause by the capacity crowd.