The Australia-New Zealand ODI series got off to a fiery start with Mitchell Johnson almost head-butting Scott Styris as the latter guided the hosts to a thrilling two-wicket victory.
The pair got involved in a heated exchange at the end of the 46th over in which Styris smashed two boundaries off Johnson. Later, Johnson was fined 60 per cent of match fee for a Level 2 offence while the New Zealand all-rounder received a fine of 15 per cent for a Level 1 breach.
Chasing 275 for eight, Scott Styris and Shane Bond emerged heroes for New Zealand as got the Black Caps across the line after Ross Taylor’s 70 had built on the good start by Brendon McCullum (45) and Peter Ingram (40).
Styris, who finished on 49 not out from just 34 balls, smacked a six off Doug Bollinger in the final over to lift the Black Caps to 281 for eight to seal the victory with four balls remaining. The all-rounder was a late inclusion in the starting line-up after captain Daniel Vettori was ruled out with a neck injury that meant Taylor took over the captaincy.
Bond (11 not out) played his part too, hitting two boundaries off Shane Watson to level the scores with an over to go. He also enjoyed success with the ball taking two for 50 from his 10 overs, including the key wicket of Michael Hussey.
In many ways the two sides’ innings were similar as Watson (45) got Australia off to a blistering start before they were pegged back by some tight bowling from New Zealand and kept below the 300-mark on a pitch expected to be full of runs. It took a run-a-ball 59 from Hussey late in the innings and 33 runs each from Cameron White and James Hopes to get a competitive total on the board.
The loss was Australia’s first in 13 matches and followed a super-over defeat in the final Twenty20 in Christchurch on Sunday.
“This is a big series. This defines our summer. I think Daniel Vettori has already said that,” Styris said. “To win back-to-back games, albeit in different versions of the game, is a good start for us.”