Australia may have enjoyed a dominant summer at home, ruthlessly dismantling Pakistan and the West Indies, but life on the road is already proving much tougher for Ricky Ponting's side. After seeing their 24-match unbeaten streak end on Sunday when they were beaten by New Zealand in a Twenty20 game, Australia tasted defeat for the first time in 15 one-day internationals yesterday, a run stretching back to October when they were beaten by India in Delhi.
Scott Styris was the hero for the Black Caps yesterday in a win that extended their own winning ODI sequence to six matches. The 34-year-old has spent most of the summer on the periphery of the team and would not even have been in the starting XI in Napier had Daniel Vettori, the captain and No 1 ODI bowler, not been forced out with a neck problem. Instead of watching from the stands the all-rounder found himself thrust into the role of match-winner as he hit 49 not out to get New Zealand past the target of 276 with four balls to spare after Ross Taylor, acting as captain in Vettori's absence, set up the innings with a 71-ball 70.
"To get out there and have a chance to win it I was obviously ecstatic," said Styris. "The boys have worked so hard and it was good to get them a win. "I was a little bit rusty to start with. I haven't had an innings for a couple of weeks so it took me a little bit to get going but the wicket out here was top drawer and great for batting, and thankfully once the powerplay came I was able to get my shots away."
The teams meet again in Auckland on Sunday in the second of the five-match series. New Zealand will now fancy their chances of toppling the holders of the Champions Trophy. "This is a big series," said Styris. "This defines our summer. I think Daniel Vettori has already said that. To win back-to-back games, albeit in different versions of the game, is a good start for us. "Hopefully they know they've got a contest now and we're here to play."
The victory was tempered somewhat for Styris by the fine he was handed by the match referee for breaching the ICC Code of Conduct. Styris was fined 15 per cent of his fee while Mitchell Johnson was fined 60 per cent after the pair were involved in a heated exchange in the 46th over of New Zealand's run chase, when Styris struck Johnson for two boundaries. The players bumped shoulders and then appeared to clash heads. Initially, there was a verbal exchange between the two but at that point Johnson approached Styris and made what the umpires felt was deliberate and inappropriate physical contact. Meanwhile, Ponting felt his side's 275 for eight was never going to be enough. Only Michael Hussey (59) got a half-century, while Shane Watson (45), Ponting (44), Cameron White and James Hopes (both 33) all got starts but failed to push on. "I probably felt all night we were just a little bit behind," said Ponting. "I didn't think 275 was enough runs on that wicket. * With agencies
Australia: S Watson c Ingram b Oram 45 B Haddin b Bond 12 R Ponting c Guptill b Franklin 44 M Clarke c McCullum b Tuffey 22 C White b Tuffey 33 M Hussey b Bond 59 J Hopes b Southee 33 M Johnson not out 21 N Hauritz c sub b Tuffey 4 R Harris not out 0 Extras 1w, 1b 2 Total (8 wkts, 50 overs) 275 Fall of wickets: 1-50; 2-58; 3-100; 4-148; 5-172; 6-244; 7-252; 8-268 Bowling: Southee 8-0-66-1; Bond 10-1-50-2; Oram 7-0-29-1; Tuffey 10-0-58-3; Franklin 9-0-44-1; Styris 6-0-27-0 New Zealand: B McCullum b Bollinger 45 P Ingram c Hussey b Johnson 40 M Guptill c Watson b Hopes 9 R Taylor c Hussey b Watson 70 J Franklin c Haddin b Hauritz 12 N Broom b Bollinger 19 S Styris not out 49 D Tuffey b Harris 12 T Southee run out 2 S Bond not out 11 Extras 2w, 10lb 12 Total (8 wkts, 49.2 overs) 281 Fall of wickets: 1-75; 2-90; 3-106; 4-175; 5-204; 6-207; 7-234; 8-246 Bowling: Harris 10-1-57-1; Bollinger 9.2-0-58-2; Johnson 10-1-46-1; Hopes 6-0-40-1; Watson 9-0-47-1; Clarke 2-0-8-0; Hauritz 3-0-15-1 New Zealand won by two wickets with four balls remaining. They lead the five-match series 1-0