The extraordinary thing about this match was, until the dinner break, how much it mirrored the events from Wellington a week ago. Following the dinner break it was like the Scotland game, and then some.
New Zealand ended up being a Mitchell Starc yorker away from being dismissed five runs short having used up less than half their overs.
Unusually, we got a game that matched the hype. This was drama-theatre played out by two sides pumped up with bravado, and showing a lot of nerves. It was like testosterone filled teenagers on the way to a ball.
It was a premature ejaculation of a cricket match.
Both sides showed brilliance, but there was a lot of stupidity out there.
Australia rode their luck a bit in getting to 80/1 at faster than a run a ball, and then New Zealand rode their luck in that spell when the visitors lost 8/26. Every inside edge seemed to find the stumps, every chipped shot found a fieldsman.
Last week’s Southee was this week’s Boult; last week’s Morgan was this week’s Clarke and, hilariously, last week’s Stuart Broad was this week’s Mitchell Johnson. In life in general, there are few better sights than watching a bully cowering.
Amongst all the carnage there was Daniel Vettori, introduced in the seventh over and dominant throughout. Finally perhaps people are clicking onto just how important he is in the New Zealand bowling lineup.
152 to win was not a lot, and McCullum started like he was still batting in Wellington.
The fact that Australia resorted to bodyline tactics 3 overs into Clarke’s first ODI in charge in the post Phil Hughes era was a victory of sorts. The knock to the elbow sent alarm bells through New Zealand; let’s hope the medical staff add some caution to balance the bravado.
Guptill once again worried. He is a good batsman, and the clout off Johnson for the free hit in his second ball proved that. But when he thinks about things is just becomes so damn hard.
Then was that pesky dinner break. It is a rule that has been in place since ODIs moved to the 50 over format, but suddenly people seem to find it an outrage. It does penalise the side going well; last week that was New Zealand, today a wicket in the first ball after the break sent some angst around. New Zealand was a Kane Williamson dismissal away from being in serious trouble.
There is one thing for sure; Grant Elliott will never play like that again.
If Clarke hadn’t, bizarrely, brought Johnson back on for that second spell things may have been different (0/68 off 6 today), Anderson was allowed to get going and things seemed to be going swimmingly.
Soon 131/4 would become 146/9 throuh a mixture of Starc hostility and some pretty daft batting. Milne has the excuse of inexperience; those batting one spot immediately above and below him in the order do not have that excuse. Should New Zealand win the toss in the forthcoming matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh, they must bat first; regardless of the conditions.
But the key was always Williamson; and the ice cold slog down the ground to the famously short boundary at the end deserves to replayed again and again.
In the end New Zealand got home with nine wickets down with 27 overs to spare. Against Australia. You can not argue with that.
MVP points tomorrow; this takes some digesting.