Australia 243 for 9 (Khawaja 88, Carey 71, Boult 4-51) beat New Zealand 157 (Starc 5 for 26) by 86 runs
It was bound to happen at some point or the other in the tournament as New Zealand have been scraping away with wins against Bangladesh, South Africa and West Indies thanks to a big dollop of help from lady luck and some poor mistakes from the opposition on each occasion.
This though, was a different scenario and New Zealand’s men were made to look like boys as they were outclassed by Australia on a turning pitch as the defending champions won by 86-runs at Lord’s on Saturday.
After winning the toss and batting first, Australia soon found their top run-scorers captain Aaron Finch and David Warner out cheaply for eight and 16 respectively as Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson bowled with fire.
Soon Ferguson had the big wicket of Steve Smith, who has not been among the runs this World Cup and Australia were 46/3 in the 12th over, caught by a brilliant one-handed diving effort by Martin Guptill, after he had previously dropped two tough chances .
Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis tried to rebuild slowly but that didn’t last long as Stoinis was gone for 21, falling prey to an excellent delivery from James Neesham, which he could only nick to the wicketkeeper Tom Latham.
Things got even worse for the Aussies as Glenn Maxwell, who has been short of runs this tournament was gone after scoring just one, once again by a brilliant one-handed catch, this time by Neesham, who was also the bowler here.
Khawaja and Alex Carey then got things back on track for the Aussies as they took the score from 92/5 to 199/5 and with seven overs still left.
Carey was eventually dismissed after scoring a quick 71 off 72 balls, by Kiwi captain Kane Willamson, who once again provided a crucial breakthrough with his part-time off-spin.
Pat Cummins then joined Khawaja, who was batting cautiously as he closed in on his century and the Aussies looked at a 250-plus total.
But in the last over, he was bowled by Boult for 88 off 129 balls.
With the score at 243/7 Mitchell Starc was in next and gone to a brilliant yorker from Boult, who was giving Starc a taste of his own medicine.
With a hat-trick in sight and tailender Jason Behrendorff on strike, Boult bowled a fast outswinger which pitched on leg stump off a length and shot away, only to hit Behrendorff’s pads and he was given LBW.
There were only two runs taken in the last over with the Kiwis ending on a high having their opposition at 243/9.
The New Zealand openers Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls made a steady start putting on 29 runs for the first wicket before Nicholls was out for eight, off the bowling of Behrendorff.
Guptill soon was dismissed as he was trapped in front by Behrendorff for 20 and the Australians were on top.
But then the experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor moved things ahead as they took the score close to 100 before Starc had the big wicket of Williamson who scored 40.
With the required rate edging closer to seven, Taylor tried to manufacture a shot off a Cummins delivery only to top edge the ball and have it perched in the hands of wicket-keeper Carey, a few seconds later.
The in-form Colin de Grandhomme was in next and of all people, he tried to hit a loose and wide delivery by Steve Smith - who was being booed by the crowd - but only found Khawaja at the long-off boundary.
From there, the Kiwi batting just collapsed as Starc came back into the attack and took the wickets of Tom Latham (14), Mitchell Santner (12), Ish Sodhi (5) and Lockie Ferguson (0) to get another five-wicket haul while Neesham was caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon for nine.
New Zealand went from 97/2 to 157 all out in 43.4 overs.
The Austalians further solidify their position at the top of the table with 14 points, having already qualified for the semis.
New Zealand stay in 11 points in third spot as India overtakes them with the same number of points and a better net run-rate and a match in hand.
With one game against England - who are placed fifth on eight points - left, qualification for the semis have not yet been guaranteed and a big loss there could see them crash out.
Trent Boult became the first player from New Zealand to have a World Cup hat-trick.
Mitchell Starc now has 45 wickets in World Cups, making him the sixth highest wicket-taker of all time; the list is led by fellow Australiann Glenn McGrath who has 71 wickets.
Kane Williamson had only been dismissed by pace bowling once in the entire tournament. He had faced 356 balls from pace bowlers before this game. The Kiwi captain had also never been dismissed by Starc in ODI’s, before today.
Starc is now the leading wicket-taker this World Cup with 24 wickets, The most number of wickets taken by a bowler in a World Cup is also his compatriot, Glenn McGrath who took 26 wickets from 11 games in the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.