McCullum's dream turns to nightmare
The man who had asked New Zealand to dream big, had a nightmare start. Mitchell Starc showed why he is the undeniable bowler of the tournament, aided no doubt by Brendon McCullum's desire to instantly stamp himself all over the match. McCullum had a mighty swing first ball and missed it altogether. He had a mightly charge off the second, with the ball following him like a deranged stalker. Off the third, it tailed in, McCullum's bat came down and his off stump departed. So did Starc in a different direction, chased by delirious team-mates. The G raised itself to a roar. New Zealand 1 for 1.
Entering into the batting Powerplay, James Faulkner, Australia's heavy impact man, stopped New Zealand hearts with a brutal 1-2. First ball of the 35th, Ross Taylor tried to drive a Faulkner slower ball, but nicked it towards Brad Haddin who rolled back years to snap it up. Two balls later, Corey Anderson, New Zealand's wannabe James Faulkner, was yorked. After a steadying 111-run partnership between Taylor and Grant Elliott, New Zealand went from 150 for 3 to 150 for 5. The last five were to add just 23, and Faulkner's 1-2 set it off.
An insouciant straight six off his first ball, a creatively carted three over extra cover and Tim Southee looked ready for some freaky hitting. What he will be left with instead is the memory of being the non-striker at the centre of a run-out. Glenn Maxwell, he of the dead-eye, who had fielded the ball, whirled around from short leg and knocked down the stumps with Southee backing up too far. There wasn't a lot of ground for Southee to cover, but it was enough for Maxwell. Bullseye.
Remove Steven Smith who is Australia's one-man rescue mission in all formats, and every team believes they are foot in the door. New Zealand's night turned morose when they got the ball past him and onto his stumps but still didn't dislodge. The bails that is. Matt Henry got Smith to play awkwardly across on the backfoot and had the ball trickle onto the stumps. Henry threw up his arms, in celebration, Smith whirled around to check where the ball had gone. It had struck the stumps gently and didn't shift the bails. Heads clutched at all around, including the batsman.
Michael Clarke is Showbizz in Australian cricket green and gold. He arrived at the crease, immediately surrounded by New Zealand fielders, blocking, leaving and trying to keep out of trouble against Henry, Southee and Trent Boult who smelt an opening. Then after 18 balls of being Mr Stoic, he could hold it back no longer. This was his last night in ODI cricket, this was the New Zealand bowling with very little behind them. Henry went full and wide and Clarke threw his bat at it, nicking one overslips to a vacant boundary.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo