After being sent into bat, Australia have posted a paltry total, 148 off 49.3 overs, in the first of three Chappell-Hadlee limited overs matches in Wellington. Captain Mike Hussey top-scored with 42, while the Black Caps' Shane Bond finished with a sensational 5/23, wrapping up the Australian tail with the wicket of Brad Hogg (20).
Now, as I post this the Kiwis have yet to commence their innings, and I have been known to err somewhat on the side of pessimism. Rain prior to the match generally favours the bowling side, and maybe in such conditions 148 is a defendable total (chortle). And to be fair to the Aussies, they have been depleted by injuries to Lee and Clarke, and Ponting, Gilchrist and Symonds are sitting out the New Zealand tour.
(BTW: please don't be fooled into thinking I have the faintest clue what I'm talking about.)
Nevertheless--and unless the Aussies are able to pull a rabbit out of a hat in the New Zealand innings--their performance today and in the past few matches is . . . well . . . worrying. In stark contrast to their Ashes campaign, the Australian team of late February 2007 looks brittle and easily-rattled. After the third Chappell-Hadlee encounter the Aussies have about three weeks before their first World Cup encounter, and a week-and-a-half on top of that before they face their first real test of the tournament in the guise of South Africa.
What do you think? Can they pull off a third successive World Cup win?
UPDATE: Pathetic, boys. Pathetic.