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Australia crush England on Cricket World Cup opening day

Tournament favourites Australia overpowered England with a sensational batting performance on the opening day of the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

Australian batsman Aaron Finch punished England's bowlers in Melbourne. Credit: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Nervy England were made to pay for dropping Aaron Finch when he had yet to score as the Aussie opener powered to a century to help the co-hosts post a massive total of 342 for nine at Melbourne's MCG ground.

It could have been worse for England but their fast bowler Steven Finn claimed a hat-trick from the final three balls of the innings.

England never got going with the bat, finishing 111 runs short of Australia's huge total as they fell to 231 all out. James Taylor was stranded on 98 not out.

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New Zealand open Cricket World Cup with a big win

Co-hosts New Zealand kicked off the 2015 Cricket World Cup with a comfortable 98-run defeat of Sri Lanka in their Pool A match in Christchurch.

New Zealand's in-form batsman Kane Williamson scored 57 against Sri Lanka. Credit: Kai Schwoerer/DPA/PA

The Black Caps amassed an imposing 331 for six from their 50 overs, with Corey Anderson (75) top-scoring and Brendon McCullum (65), Kane Williamson (57) and Martin Guptill (49) also in the runs.

Sri Lanka could only manage a mediocre 233 in reply, with Lahiru Thirimanne (65) leading the way with the bat as five New Zealand bowlers claimed two wickets each.

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Australia captain Clarke ruled out of England match

Australia captain Michael Clarke has lost his race to be fit for Saturday's blockbuster World Cup opener against England.

Clarke has lost his race to be fit for Saturday's opener. Credit: PA

Coach Darren Lehmann confirmed that Clarke would not play at the MCG despite the 33-year-old's quicker-than-expected recovery from hamstring surgery.

Clarke pulled on an Australia shirt for the first time in two months on Wednesday night, hitting 64 and bowling two overs of spin, as his side finalised their World Cup preparations with a 188-run win over United Arab Emirates.

No he's not playing Saturday. I'm happy with the way he pulled up, really happy with his progress and we're going to stick to the plan. He'll play against Bangladesh.

– Australia coach Darren Lehmann

Watch Cricket World Cup highlights on Saturday 14th February at 10:35pm on ITV and 10pm on Sunday 15th February on ITV4.

Cricket World Cup brings back Super Over

A 'Super Over' will be used to determine the winner of this year's World Cup if the final ends in a tie, the International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmed on Thursday.

The tiebreaker, in which a team nominates three batsmen to face six deliveries from a rival bowler, was in place in the 2011 final but was scrapped in the lead-up to next month's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"The ICC Board reinstated the use of a Super Over in the event of a tie in the World Cup final," cricket's governing body said in a statement on Thursday.

The ICC is also allowing captains to enter the Feb. 14-March 29 tournament with a clean slate regarding minor over-rate offences.

"All captains will enter World Cup with no over-rate 'strikes' against their names and they will only be suspended from playing in a match if over-rate offences are committed during the event," it added.

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