A superb all-round bowling performance saw Australia win the first ODI against New Zealand by 71 runs at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Friday (March 13).
In pursuit of a target of 259, New Zealand's opening pair of Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls (10) made a cautious start on a slow pitch. Mitchell Starc has the tendency to strike with the new ball and there was a close call during the first over of the chase. An in-swinging delivery from the left-arm pacer struck Guptill's pads and the Australians decided to challenge the on-field decision of not out. But once the replays were shown, it was quite obvious that the ball pitched outside leg-stump and Australia lost their review.
Just as it looked like the opening partnership would get through the first Powerplay unscathed, Josh Hazlewood dismissed Henry Nicholls for 10. New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (19) got a start but couldn't make it count as he was outfoxed by a magnificent googly from Adam Zampa in the 20th over. In the following over, Ross Taylor (4) was caught at mid-on off the bowling of Mitchell Marsh as he tried to be aggressive early in his innings.
Guptill, who is known to be a big-hitter, played tentatively - scoring 40 from 73 deliveries before he had to walk back to the pavillion thanks to a brilliant diving catch from Steve Smith at point. That was Pat Cummins' first wicket and he didn't have to wait long for his second as he bounced Jimmy Neesham out for eight in his next over.
Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme brought the away side back into the game with a fine fifty-run partnership. Both batsmen batted with intent, something that was missing from the New Zealand innings earlier. But just after a drinks break came the breakthrough Australia needed with Latham holing out to deep square-leg for 38.
De Grandhomme soon fell for 25 and New Zealand were never in the game after that. The visitors were eventually bowled out for 187.
Cummins and Marsh took three wickets apiece while Zampa and Hazlewood picked up a couple of wickets each.
Earlier, Australia put 258/7 on the board from their 50 overs with David Warner, Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne scoring half-centuries.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Warner and Finch got the hosts off to a great start and brought up their 10th 100+ partnership in ODIs. Only two Australian pairs (Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden with 16 and Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting with 11) have more century-stands in the 50-over format at the international level.
Finch rode his luck quite a bit. In the third over, he was caught behind off the bowling of Trent Boult. The on-field decision was not out and the Black Caps decided against using their review. UltraEdge would later show a clear spike when the ball went past the bat. 10 overs later, a Santner delivery trapped the Australian skipper on his pads in front of the stumps. Once again the on-field call was not out and once again Williamson didn't use a review before ball-tracking showed that the decision would have gone in the visitors' favour if they had decided to send it upstairs.
It was all one-way traffic before Lockie Ferguson, who returned to the New Zealand team after an injury layoff, got the better of Warner (67) just before the half-way mark of the innings. Santner, who was bowling superbly, then dismissed Finch for 60.
Santner soon struck again as he bowled Smith for 14 before D'Arcy Short fell for five while attempting to play a big shot against Ish Sodhi. The Black Caps leg-spinner would take two more wickets in the 46th over of the innings, first dismissing the set Marsh (27) before getting the wicket of Alex Carey (1) soon after.
While wickets were tumbling around him, Labuschagne played a fighting knock for Australia. The 25-year-old, who scored his maiden ODI century just a few days ago against South Africa, made 56 valuable runs before he became Ferguson's second wicket in the final over of the innings.
While Sodhi took three wickets, Santner was New Zealand's most impressive bowler - conceding just 34 runs from his 10 overs while also picking up two crucial wickets.
All three matches in this series are being played behind closed doors due to the threat of COVID-19. Australian fast bowler Kane Richardson was tested after he informed medical staff about a sore throat on Thursday. His test returned negative and he was able to return to the SCG as a result.