Williamson sparkles in the gloom
New Zealand had collapsed the last time they met Australia on the global stage. Their innings during that World Cup final in 2015, after electing to bat, was a slide to the bottom delayed by one pair's futile attempt at hanging on. On Thursday, too, the collapse came, but the damage was more botched frosting than cake on the floor.
One thing that was different was that New Zealand had a semblance of an opening stand on this occasion - and it came in quick time. The other difference, and by far the more significant one, was Kane Williamson's ninth ODI century.
Williamson, now New Zealand's captain and a far better ODI batsman than in 2015, had hit only three fours and a six when he reached fifty in the 29th over. His method was to nudge, nurdle, dab and steer. Through this and through enabling his more flamboyant partners in Luke Ronchi and Ross Taylor, he ensured the run rate never fell into poor health on a rainy day.
With all that done, he let loose in the final third of the innings. The evidence of his improved skill in the shorter formats was in his shot-selection during this phase. Against his natural instincts, Williamson routinely picked the midwicket region with angled-bat shots across the line. Fast bowler John Hastings was given the pleasure of being hoicked over cow corner twice, as Williamson switched from providing a foundation to providing the impetus. On paper, that translated to 50 off his last 35 balls.
The wow moment
The first sign of Williamson's intent came at the end of the 32nd over, a dull one till then. Williamson wanted a boundary, and this was glaringly obvious when he chose to walk across his stumps. He got a full ball, a tad wide of off-stump and got under it before offering the full face to lift it past mid-off.
Hastings should have seen it as the start of something.
Stats that matter
- Williamson took a liking for Hastings, taking the fast bowler for 42 off 25 balls
- This century was Williamson's first against Australia in ODIs
What they said
"Much respect for Kane Williamson. Top century, good strike rate, plays batting leader admirably. Never any fuss about him but he's a star too!"
Harsha Bhogle, on Twitter
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo