Defending champions New Zealand crashed to an ignonimous 164-run defeat to Australia in a Group A league match at Colombo today to be virtually thrown out of contention of the Champions Trophy cricket tournament.
New Zealand were bowled out for a paltry 132 in 26.2 overs after Australia, electing to bat first, had piled up 296 for seven in their stipulated 50 overs.
Glen McGrath was the wrecker-in-chief for Australia claiming five wickets for 37 runs from his seven overs as New Zealand caved in without any fight. Speedster Brett Lee finished with three wickets for 38 runs.
Ironically, the highest scorer for New Zealand was number eleven batsman Shane Bond who hit five fours in his 22-ball 26.
Bond put on 50 runs in an entertaining last wicket stand with Kyle Mills after New Zealand had collapsed to 82 for nine in the 19th over. Mills remained unbeaten on 23 off 39 balls with one four and a six.
Earlier, Damien Martyn had led a combined assualt on the New Zealand bowlers as Australia equalled the highest score at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground. Martyn scored an 87-ball 73 with eight boundaries after openers Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden had given the team a flying start.
It was New Zealand's second biggest defeat, next only to the 174-run thrashing they received from India in 1999 at Hyderabad.
The Australian win was fashioned by the fine performance of all the frontline batsmen who chipped in with useful contributions and in quick time.
Gilchrist and Hayden put on a whirlwind 68 runs in just 9.2 overs before Daryl Tuffey provided the breakthrough for New Zealand. Gilchrist, who scored 44 runs off just 30 deliveries with seven fours and a six was caught by Matthew Sinclair.
However, the Australians continued to score at well above six runs an over with skipper Ricky Ponting and Hayden combining well and finding the runs with ease.
The two put on 61 runs for the second wicket before Ponting fell on the last ball of the 19th over, caught by Stephen Fleming at short covers off Shane Bond for 37 runs off only 31 balls with eight boundaries.
Hayden soon followed his captain to the pavilion when he was clean bowled by Daniel Vettori, clearly the pick of the New Zealand bowlers. At a time when other bowlers were being thrashed all over the ground, Vettori sent in 10 overs for just 25 runs while claiming the wicket of Hayden who made 43 runs with four fours and a six.
Thereafter, Martyn took the centrestage and dominated the New Zealand attack in the company of Darren Lehmann who made 35. The two added 74 runs for the fourth wicket in 17 overs.
Australia were 217 for four in the 41st over when Michael Bevan joined Martyn at the fall of Lehmann. The stage was set for some big hitting and a 300-plus score looked a distinct possibility.
But one-day specialist Bevan looked slightly out of sorts today even though he managed 21 runs off 23 balls. With Bevan unable to get going, Martyn, who had already crossed his half-century, took on the responsibility to push the accelerator and came up with some powerfully-hit boundaries.
New Zealand bowlers did well in the last five overs to dismiss both Bevan and Martyn in quick succession but Shane Watson smashed an unbeaten 19 runs off just nine balls with a four and a six to undo the good work.
In contrast, none of the New Zealand batsmen were allowed to settle down with Jason Gillespie trapping opener Nathan Astle leg before wicket for nought in the second over of the innings to claim his only wicket of the match.
It was a McGrath show all the way after that as he claimed the next five wickets to clean up the New Zealand middle order as the Kiwis crashed to 51 for six in the 13th over. McGrath was later declared the man of the match for his effort.
Chris Harris (19) offered some resistance but wickets continued to tumble at the other end, and at 82 for nine, New Zealand were in real danger of suffering their biggest ever defeat.