Set 259 to win after three Australian batsmen made fifties, New Zealand were unable to stitch up substantial partnerships as the home team's bowlers chipped away at regular intervals to bowl them out 79 runs short of the target in the first ODI of the three-match series on Friday, 13 March.
New Zealand's chase began on the wrong foot as Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood put the ball in the right areas to build pressure. It wasn't long before Henry Nicholls flashed at one from Hazlewood to fall for 10 off 22 balls.
Captain Kane Williamson had just begun to look at ease alongside Martin Guptill when Adam Zampa produced an excellent googly to knock him over for 19. Taking the cue from the opening bowlers, Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins, too, focussed on hitting conventional areas, forcing batsmen to take risks. Marsh earned his reward with Ross Taylor mis-hitting one to mid-on for four.
Martin Guptill had looked solid during his knock of 40, but was dismissed when Cummins got one to stick into the pitch. Steve Smith took a trademark blinder at backward point, as the ball flew from the outside half of Guptill's bat. Then, Cummins tested James Neesham with the bouncer and soon had him glove one to the 'keeper.
Tom Latham and Colin de Grandhomme threatened to put New Zealand back into the contest with a 51-run stand. It was Hazlewood who provided the breakthrough, having Latham caught at deep mid-wicket for 38. De Grandhomme departed shortly after, holing out to long-on off Adam Zampa's bowling. Australia were then able to clean up the lower-order without much trouble, bowling them out for 187 in 41 overs. Marsh, who was named Player of the Match, and Cummins finished with three wickets apiece, while Hazlewood and Zampa shared the other four wickets.
Earlier, Australia had gotten off to a great start, with David Warner and Aaron Finch forging a 124-run stand for the first wicket and both going past fifties. But New Zealand hit back hard once they secured the opening wicket, courtesy of a miscued pull shot by Warner off a Lockie Ferguson short ball. Finch soon nicked one behind as he looked to cut Mitchell Santner. Steve Smith fell in Santner's next over, when he was bowled trying to play a cut.
D'Arcy Short then succumbed to the growing pressure, pulling a long hop from Ish Sodhi straight to the man in the deep. Even as most batsmen around him began to struggle, Marnus Labuschagne had little trouble picking the gaps. He scored at over a run a ball for his half-century, and forged an important 59-run stand with Marsh (27). He fell in the final over for an excellent 52-ball 56, but had propped Australia up to what turned out to be an easily defendable score.