Trent Boult was instrumental in restricting the Australians to a total of 243 at Lord’s before Mitchell Starc and co ran through the New Zealand batting to set a 86-run win, handing the Kiwis their second straight loss.
Boult, the hat-trick hero at Lord’s on Saturday, believes the defending champions are the team to beat at this World Cup.
New Zealand were losing finalists in the 2015 World Cup at Melbourne and Boult thinks the five-time winners are peaking at the right time in their bid to retain the title.
“Australia turn up for World Cups,” he said. “They have a good record in them and they’re peaking nicely. They produced the complete performance and they were too good for us.
“There are some quality sides here but it’s all about timing in my opinion and Australia is performing well, there are only a couple of weeks left and they’re the ones to beat.”
Starc finished with five wickets against the Kiwis to not only become the leading wicket-taker at the on-going World Cup with 24 scalps but also became the first bowler to register a third five-wicket haul in a World Cup. Second on the list behind Starc is Lockie Ferguson with 17 wickets.
Asked what made Starc so special, Boult joked: “He’s six foot seven, bowls 157kph and swings it both ways!”
He added: “He’s a classy bowler. He was used very nicely with short spells to be aggressive. He’s had a stellar campaign so far.”
Three pinpoint yorkers in the final over helped Boult complete the second hat-trick of the tournament, and he believes they let the Aaron Finch-led side of the hook.
He said: “It would have been nice if it was in the first over but any bowler dreams of getting three wickets in a row. To do it at the ‘Home of Cricket’ in front of a good crowd against Australia was pretty cool.”
“It’s a pretty simple game plan,” he added. “I wanted to disturb the woodwork and it was nice to see the stumps light up. It was a bit of entertainment for the crowd.
“To have them 90 for five and let them get over 200 was frustrating. If we had kept them under 200, then it’s a whole different ball game.”
New Zealand have now suffered two successive defeats, against Pakistan and Australia, and face England in their final group match on Wednesday, a match that could yet decide who makes the final four.
But Boult does not believe that any major changes are required.
“We need to win the last one,” he added. “It will be a big one for England and they will be hungry – it’s certainly not panic stations. The bowling plans work well against any side so there won’t be much reinvention.”