Cameron Green and Alex Carey have steered Australia to an unlikely victory over New Zealand in their opening ODI in Cairns with the hosts languishing at 44-5 at one stage.
Chasing 233 to win, Australia’s innings under lights began abysmally when skipper Aaron Finch fell once again to a left-arm seamer, scoring just five for a second consecutive innings.
Trent Boult ripped through the top order grabbing Steve Smith next before trapping Marnus Labuschagne leg before wicket, as he snared three wickets, bowled 21 dot balls and conceded just 12 runs from his five-over spell.
When Matt Henry had David Warner caught on the boundary before Marcus Stoinis was clean bowled, Australia were in dire straits.
But Carey and Green played exquisitely, the left-armer using the pace of New Zealand’s seamers to guide the ball around while right-handed Green showed exceptional footwork navigating their spinners with his destructive sweep shot.
Their 158-run partnership ended in the 40th over when Carey played a pull shot into Henry’s hands and departed for 85 (99), with Glenn Maxwell soon following for two when he was caught on the boundary. Then Mitchell Starc fell cheaply and the Australians were in trouble again.
Green battled leg and calf cramps and needed work from the trainer as Australia sat at 207-8. As if the match didn’t have enough drama, it began to pour with the score 225-8. Adam Zampa smacked a four and the heavens opened, forcing the players from the field.
They departed for just three minutes before returning, needing four runs to win. Zampa took strike for Lochie Ferguson’s over, the paceman bowled a wide and Australia went 1-0 up in the series following Greens’ undefeated 89.
Earlier, Maxwell claimed four wickets amid his second best ODI figures. Devon Conway scored 46, skipper Kane Williamson 45 and Tom Latham 43 but Maxwell did the damage late on for Australia as the Black Caps made 232-9 after being sent in.
Finch’s decision to bring Maxwell into the attack late paid dividends as he removed Williamson, Daryl Mitchell, Latham and Michael Bracewell. Maxwell finished with 4-52 from 10 overs, leaving Australia in the driver’s seat as the Black Caps’ tail folded.
Josh Hazlewood cleaned up the tail and finished the most economical of Australia’s bowlers, with 3-31 from his 10 overs. Despite losing their last six wickets for just 44 runs, New Zealand’s total was almost enough but Green and Carey’s partnership was the difference on Tuesday.