Sun, 06 Mar 2005

From: Reuters

Ponting steers Aussies to NZ win

Reuters, Wellington

Australia crushed New Zealand by 122 runs at Napier on Saturday to complete a 5-0 sweep of their one-day series.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting smashed his 16th one-day century and his deputy Adam Gilchrist belted 91 to help the world champions pile on 347 for five from their 50 overs.

An understrength New Zealand could only manage 225 for eight in reply with Craig McMillan top scoring for the hosts with 63.

Michael Kasprowicz was the pick of the Australian bowlers, capturing three wickets for 36 runs.

"We've played some great cricket on this tour," Ponting said.

"To come here and win 5-0 was what we hoped to do."

The Kiwis had gone into the series ranked number two in the world but the heavy loss dropped them down to third behind Sri Lanka.

"I'm not too sure what to say, we've been well and truly thumped by a magnificent side," New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming said.

"It's not easy to take 5-0 but we'll cop it on the chin and move on and become a better side for it."

Ponting blasted the last two balls of the Australia innings over the ropes for six to finish unbeaten on 141 after Gilchrist had fallen agonisingly short of his hundred.

After missing the fourth match because of a minor leg injury, Ponting was even more destructive than Gilchrist, hammering 10 boundaries and five sixes in a chanceless knock that set a host of batting records.

New Zealand's slim chances of winning were dealt a serious blow even before they began their innings when all-rounder Chris Cairns was unable to bat after tearing his hamstring.