Australian concerns over leaving Glenn McGrath at home for the Chappell-Hadlee Series were dispelled as the back-up brigade stormed through New Zealand for an embarrassing 147-run victory in the opening match. Brett Lee stepped up in the absence of McGrath, who is resting in Sydney, with an amazing performance and he received such impressive support from Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark that the home side imploded to 33 for 6 on the way to being dismissed for 105 in only 27.4 overs.
Boosted by a tailwind, the speed of Lee was the main danger as he reached up to 156kph in a six-over opening spell that was also impressive for its accuracy and earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. Making the batsmen jump around with shorter balls, Lee then restricted their feet movement when he pitched up and was rewarded with the wickets of the Marshall brothers and Craig McMillan as he gave up only five runs.
New Zealand were in severe trouble after losing two batsmen in the first four overs and the situation deteriorated further when Scott Styris and James Marshall departed by the time the score reached 20. The opener Lou Vincent and Hamish Marshall both played on to their stumps, Bracken striking first before Lee reduced them to 16 for 2 with Marshall's inside edge. Operating at around 20kph slower than Lee, Bracken swung the ball and generally kept a tight line, although when he aimed a wider ball Styris drove straight to point where Michael Clarke took a sharp overhead catch.
James Marshall was rushed in as the Supersub at No. 5 in a bid to limit the damage and he appeared not to sight Lee's delivery that caught him lbw for nought. The Australians were buzzing and the mood became even more upbeat when Craig McMillan nicked Lee to Michael Hussey at second slip and then Clark, who was playing only his second match, removed Nathan Astle in his first over (33 for 6).
The miracle working was left to the powerful allrounders Jacob Oram and Chris Cairns, but Oram became Clark's second wicket and Brendon McCullum his third as he claimed 3 for 19. Cairns, who had not been picked for the one-day tour of South African, was left stranded on 37 as Daniel Vettori's opening match as an ODI captain ended in disaster following a satisfying fightback in the first innings.
Australia looked set for a total of around 300 due to a dashing start with half-centuries to Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich, but they were cleverly restricted by Vettori and his band of medium pacers through the middle overs. Vettori usually saves his best bowling for Australia and he was again their main tormentor with 2 for 27 from ten.
The tourists were in charge after racing at almost a run a ball for the first 20 overs, but they lost 3 for 27 in eight around the mid-innings mark and needed desperate contributions from Symonds (44 from 59 balls), Clarke (31) and Hussey (19 from 17 deliveries) to prop up a respectable total. Parading a new away uniform with a mostly green shirt and gold trousers, the Australians looked like lolly shop workers, but Ponting shed any prospect of donations with a 46-ball half-century, which included three sixes, and a 117-run stand with Katich. He arrived in an aggressive mood and his crisp strokeplay was complemented by Katich as he applied a more patient approach and also benefited from two missed run-outs and a couple of tough chances to Cairns.
Like Katich, Cairns was returning to the international scene and he was greeted by chants of "let's go Cairnsy, let's go". The early experience was not positive and he leaked 28 from four overs before picking up Clarke and Lee in his closing second spell. Both Cairns and his team deserved to be proud of their initial recovery, but there was nothing to smile about as they were over-run by Australia's keen and mean fast bowlers.
Adam Gilchrist c Astle b Franklin 3 (4 for 1)
Stayed on the crease and edged to first slip
Simon Katich c Vettori b Styris 54 (121 for 2)
Chipped to mid-on
Ricky Ponting lbw Vettori 63 (136 for 3)
Tried to sweep but missed and was a long way forward
Brad Hodge b Styris 13 (148 for 4)
Offcutter sneaked between bat and pad
Andrew Symonds b Vettori 44 (207 for 5)
Played a late cut that was too late
Michael Clarke c Franklin b Cairns 31 (230 for 6)
Caught on the boundary mis-hitting a square drive
Brett Lee b Cairns 0 (231 for 7)
Inside edge trying to steer to third man
Brad Hogg c Vettori b Mills 4 (249 for 8)
Great diving catch as Hogg tried to drive through cover
Lou Vincent b Bracken 4 (5 for 1)
Flung his bat at a wide delivery and got an inside edge
Hamish Marshall b Lee 5 (16 for 2)
Leaned on to back foot and went the same way as Vincent
Scott Styris c Clarke b Bracken 1 (19 for 3)
Super leaping catch at point to intercept strong drive
James Marshall lbw Lee 0 (20 for 4)
Offered no shot to a ball that didn't bounce as much as he expected
Craig McMillan c Hussey b Lee 0 (28 for 5)
Nibbled at one and saw a sharp catch taken at second slip
Nathan Astle c Clarke b Clark 14 (33 for 6)
Clarke dived forward at point to take the cut from a wide ball
Jacob Oram b Clark 23 (74 for 7)
Stepped away to give himself room to drive and lost off stump
Brendon McCullum c White b Clark 2 (82 for 8)
Nicked to see a tumbling take at first slip
Daniel Vettori c Ponting b Symonds 8 (105 for 9)
Leaping Ponting picked up the cover catch at full stretch to his right
James Franklin c Gilchrist b Symonds 0 (105 all out)
Defensive push forward to an offspinner
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo