Ricky Ponting was impressed with the way Mitchell Johnson dealt with a hostile crowd to help Australia level the series in Auckland. Johnson became a target in New Zealand after his headbutt of Scott Styris in the opening game on Wednesday and he stepped up with 4 for 51 in Saturday's 12-run victory.

Johnson had two security guards escort him off the ground when he batted and the crowd booed him when he prepared to bowl. He kissed his Australian badge and looked to the stands before he ran in.

''If his by-play with the crowd affected the way he played I'd be worried, but it spurred him on, if anything,'' Ponting said after the game. ''Sometimes you've just got to try to have a bit of fun with the crowd. As much as they're giving it to you, you're the worst person in the world to them, but you've got to try to have fun with it otherwise it's going to be a long four or five weeks over here."

New Zealand were chasing 266 in 45 overs but Johnson made it difficult with the dismissals of Brendon McCullum and James Franklin before returning for Daryl Tuffey and Shane Bond. ''There were chants going around the ground but Mitch came back with wickets for us," Ponting said. "That was a good result for him and the team.''

Johnson had started by delivering a high bouncer to Styris, who was fined 15% of his match fee compared to the bowler's 60%, and the ball went for five wides. ''We might have talked about it being a bouncer, mightn't we? I'm not that unhappy if he bowls a bouncer when I've told him to," Ponting said.

''He was trying to make a statement and that's fine. He had a very good game of cricket for us. He was probably the difference. It wasn't a great performance by us by any stretch of the imagination, but we did enough to win.'' The third match of the five-game series is in Hamilton on Tuesday.