BLACKCAPS 183 all out after 44.5 overs (Grant Elliott 83, Ross Taylor 40, Mitchell Johnson 3- 30, James Faulkner 3-36, Mitchell Starc 2-20) lost to Australia 186-3 in 33.1 overs (Michael Clarke 74, Steve Smith 56) by seven wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Australia are World Champions, competing a seven wicket win at the MCG. After being dismissed for 183, the BLACKCAPS were unable to get the wickets they needed, with Michael Clarke and Steve Smith's 112 run partnership decisive on the night.
There were encouraging signs for Tim Southee and Trent Boult when the ball started moving in the MCG air straight away. Boult had a dream start, removing Aaron Finch for a golden duck in the second over – he got the inside edge which smashed into Finch’s pad and into the air for a simple caught and bowled.
David Warner went on the counter attack straight away, finding the gaps in the field and the boundary, and was soon racing along at more than a run a ball.
Dan Vettori, who appeared to be struggling with a strain, was introduced in the seventh over but could only manage one over before being replaced by Matt Henry, who went for four first ball, but soon found a tighter line.
Australia brought up 50 runs from 56 balls, then pressed on, before Warner holed out to Grant Elliott at backward square hooking a short ball from Henry for 45.
The runs started to dry up as the BLACKCAPS put the pressure on, and in the 15th, Henry got the ball to sneak through Steve Smith’s legs and hit the stumps, but the bails stayed on, stubbornly.
Smith and Clarke’s partnership was proving hard to break, and they brought up 50 runs from 64 balls between them in the 24th over, with Clarke starting to play his shots, including a down-the-wicket-inside-out six from Vettori, who was back into the attack.
He brought up his 50 from 56 balls then pushed on, finding gaps and going over the top, well supported by Smith. He went with the finish line in sight, bowled by Henry for 74, before Smith brought up his 50 from 66 balls.
Boult ended with 1-40 and Henry 2-46 from his 9.1, but the bag of wickets that was needed from one bowler just didn’t come.
In the end, the honour of hitting the winnings runs fell to Smith, who pulled the ball to the boundary to give Australia the win by seven wickets and the trophy.
It was a tough loss for the BLACKCAPS in their first final appearance, but they were up against a strong home team who got on a roll and were able to answer the questions the BLACKCAPS asked.
In the first innings, the BLACKCAPS got off to a disastrous start when leading seamer Starc bowled Brendon McCullum with his third ball. The noise inside the MCG was deafening as the danger man was gone without scoring.
The BLACKCAPS were reeling at 1-1 and the situation worsened when Guptill was bowled by Glenn Maxwell for 15 and Williamson chipped one back to Mitchell Johnson for a straightforward caught and bowled on 12 to leave the BLACKCAPS 39-3.
But Grant Elliott, the hero from last week’s thrilling semi-final win against South Africa, was ice cool once again in the red hot cauldron, hitting a vital 83 from 82 balls.
Elliott’s 111 run partnership with Ross Taylor (40) got the Kiwis back in the match, and settled the nerves of the large Kiwi contingent that came across the ditch.
Taylor was dismissed with a fine catch from Brad Haddin that the Australian team reviewed and were successful. It was another turning point in the match, which again went the way of the hosts, and exposed the lower order.
Corey Anderson (0) and Luke Ronchi (0) both returned to the stands in rapid fashion and Daniel Vettori (9) joined them soon after.
Elliott eventually departed for 83, caught behind from James Faulkner. Tim Southee hit his first ball for six from Johnson, but Matt Henry couldn't stick around, chipping a ball to cover point without scoring.
Tim Southee was the final man to go when he was run out by Maxwell at the non-strikers’ end to rub salt into the wounds of the BLACKCAPS who left the field with the heads down while the significant Aussie contingent in the crowd gave their team a standing ovation.
The BLACKCAPS will need to produce their best bowling and fielding performance of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 to give themselves a fighting chance.