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28 February 201513:05 By Anand Vasu , Auckland

Narrow win for New Zealand in low-scoring thriller

Bowlers, led by Boult’s five-for, restrict Australia to 151 and McCullum sets up chase before Starc takes it down to the wire

Narrow win for New Zealand in low-scoring thriller - Cricket News

New Zealand beat Australia by only one wicket, but the manner of the win left little doubt and proved that it was the team to beat.

A pumped up crowd at Eden Park, bathed in glorious Auckland sunshine, were treated to a rousing display of limited-overs cricket from the home side on Saturday (February 28). When the bowling was not fast and furious, it was slow and cunning. When the fielding was not safe, it was electric. And the captaincy, oh the captaincy, it was of the kind that makes every ball exciting.

The margin of New Zealand’s victory over Australia was only one wicket, but the manner of the triumph left little in doubt and New Zealand proved it was the team to beat.

Initially, the crowd was kept quiet to begin with. When the first six overs ended, Australia was running away with the game, at 51 for 1. Daniel Vettori, coming on to bowl the seventh, hit a perfect length from ball one, and the speed at which his left-arm orthodox fizzed through made him irresistible. Vettori slammed the breaks on the scoring rate, and accounted for Shane Watson and Steve Smith, although he could’ve had more.

Vettori’s class was only too evident from the time he got the ball in hand. The bespectacled wizard had a reading of the conditions – short straight boundaries and a true pitch – and bowled as though the ball was on a string. To the pacemen went all the glory on the day, but it was Vettori who turned the tide.

If Vettori got New Zealand a foot in the door, Tim Southee and Trent Boult combined to kick it out of the hinges.

Southee, who had sent down a rocket to trigger Aaron Finch’s off stump, nailed David Warner in front of the stumps.

Boult then began a spell of absolute carnage, in which he would take five wickets conceding only one run in three overs. Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh underestimated the pace and failed to account for the swing Boult generated, both batsmen hanging their bats outside off to drag the ball back onto the stumps. Michael Clarke, who returned to the XI in place of George Bailey, popped a catch straight to Kane Williamson.

When Adam Milne finally got a chance to bowl, with four slips in place, in the 28th over, just three bowlers had been used before him, and Australia was on the mat at 128 for 9. The crowd, which feasted on Australia’s misery, roared one final time for the innings in the 33rd over, when Australia was dismissed, for 151, thanks mainly to Brad Haddin’s 43.

When New Zealand came out to bat, McCullum was in the mood not merely to knock off the runs but to make a strong statement. Blasting back over the bowler’s head, pulling with the quickest of hands, and shrugging when the odd ball flew off the edge, McCullum brought up his half-century in only 21 balls. That he was dismissed three balls later did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm.

Mitchell Starc ushered in the break with a searing delivery that shattered Ross Taylor’s stumps, and when the players returned after their meal, Grant Elliott could do nothing to a yorker that swung late and flattened the middle stump. The wobble got Australia fired up, but there just were not enough runs on the board for it to make a difference. Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson stitched together a 52-run fifth-wicket partnership to take their team to the doorstep of victory.

Just when it seemed the game was gone, Australia roared back through Mitchell Starc, whose yorkers blasted through the lower order. Starc ended with 6 for 28.

With six runs still needed, and only one wicket in hand, Williamson (45 not out), ice in his veins, smacked Cummins back over his head and into the stands.

A little over 40,000 delirious people were out on the streets hours before they planned to be, and a long Saturday night beckoned.

Please click here to review the match in full in the ICC Match Centre, watch all the video clips from the game, review the scorecard and all of the match coverage.