<
>

Smith's 164 sets up big Australia win

Australia 8 for 324 (Smith 164, Head 52) beat New Zealand 256 (Guptill 114, Hazlewood 3-49) by 68 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

For the first time this summer, Steven Smith could do no wrong. In the Tests against South Africa, he didn't win a single toss, didn't manage a hundred, didn't lead his side to a victory until the series was dead. But a change of format and opposition brought a change of fortunes. Smith won the toss, plundered for himself the highest ODI score ever made at the SCG, then took a truly remarkable catch as Australia secured a 1-0 lead in the Chappell-Hadlee series.

There were other highlights in a match that finished as a 68-run victory for Australia. Martin Guptill, for the first time in 41 innings against Australia across all formats, blasted a century. Travis Head struck a fifty to help Australia post 8 for 324. Josh Hazlewood took three wickets. Colin Munro gave New Zealand the faintest glimmer of a late hope with 49. But after Smith's contributions, everything else felt inconsequential by comparison.

In 153 one-day internationals at the SCG, nobody has ever scored more than the 164 Smith compiled in this game. It was also the equal seventh-highest score by an Australian in an ODI, as well as Smith's best in all of one-day cricket. His innings was the key difference between the sides, although the standard of fielding perhaps ran a close second, for New Zealand were uncharacteristically sloppy and provided Smith and Head with costly let-offs.

Smith was dropped on 13 when he glanced Trent Boult down leg and the wicketkeeper BJ Watling grassed a chance diving to his left. If it wasn't exactly easy, nor was it unattainable: Watling later pouched a very similar take to get rid of George Bailey. An even simpler opportunity went begging when Head was on 7, as he drove Jimmy Neesham to mid-off, where Matt Henry spilled a sitter. Smith and Head went on to build a 127-run partnership.

Smith was also dropped on 152 by Munro but by then the horse had bolted, had a few birthdays, won the Golden Slipper and been put out to stud. Still, compare New Zealand's catching to that of Australia. George Bailey spilled a tough chance at midwicket when Guptill already had 56, but New Zealand had nothing to match Smith's stunning, diving, one-handed take at backward point to get rid of BJ Watling. The rest of Australia's chances were held.

It was just one of those days for New Zealand. Not only could they have had Smith on 13, but later in the same over they might easily have had him lbw for 14. Boult swung one in and rapped him on the pads, but the lbw shout was turned down by umpire Mick Martell. New Zealand chose not to ask for a review but had they done so, the decision would have been overturned. To misquote the fine New Zealand band Split Enz, they saw red, they saw red, they saw red.

The day had started in more auspicious fashion for New Zealand. In the first over of the match, Aaron Finch played on to Henry for a golden duck, and David Warner also chopped on within the first ten overs of the game, handing debutant Lockie Ferguson a maiden international wicket in his first over. Watling's diving take down leg off Neesham got rid of George Bailey for 17, and when Smith's straight drive flew through Neesham's hands and ran out Mitchell Marsh for 1, Australia were 4 for 92.

Had Henry caught Head, it would have been 5 for 115. Instead, Head went on to strike five fours and brought up his second ODI half-century. Eventually, on 52, Head drove hard back to the bowler Boult, who pouched an excellent return catch. But Head's role was a supporting one only. The starring turn in this innings belonged to Smith, who was powerful all around the wicket and particularly punishing when the bowlers dropped short.

He moved to his century from 120 balls and struck 14 fours and four sixes during the innings. His seventh ODI century ended when he skied a chance to Munro, but by then the late runs were flowing freely. Matthew Wade pounded three late sixes in his 38 from 22 balls, and Australia piled up 101 runs in their final eight overs. It took New Zealand not quite into record-breaking territory for ODI chases in Australia, but close to it.

Hazlewood picked up two early wickets - Tom Latham played on for 2 and Kane Williamson was well held at slip by Smith for 9 - but a 92-run stand between Guptill and Neesham put the innings back on track. Hazlewood played a part in breaking the partnership, completing a fine catch at long-on when Neesham (34) misjudged an attempted slog off Mitchell Starc. Then came Smith's catch of Watling, and New Zealand were wobbling.

But while Guptill remained - he was scoring at better than a run a ball - Australia could not relax. He looked effortless in striking six sixes and 10 fours, and brought up his hundred from his 93rd delivery with a six smashed over long-on off Mitchell Marsh. During his innings Guptill also became the quickest New Zealander to the 5000-run mark in ODIs, and the 10th-fastest of all comers, but he was unable to turn it into a match-winning innings.

On 114, Guptill pulled Adam Zampa to the substitute Glenn Maxwell at midwicket, and New Zealand slumped. Mitchell Santner holed out to Warner off Zampa for a duck, Colin de Grandhomme was lbw to Hazlewood for 6. Munro and Henry put on 50 before both were caught in the deep by Bailey off Pat Cummins, and Ferguson was finally bowled by Marsh for a duck.

But for all the various contributors along the way, this was a win for Smith, a day when everything he touched turned to Australian gold.