In the hour before play, Eden Park witnessed almost as much action on the field of play before the first ball as it did afterwards. Within a matter of minutes, Matthew Wade had been ruled out of captaining and playing in the Chappell-Hadlee series opener due to a back problem, and Aaron Finch was running away from warm-ups to get his match kit on in order to participate in the coin toss. Not far away, the third act of the drama played out, as the uncapped Sam Heazlett was informed he would be making his debut. The flurry of activity left the first ball of the day feeling almost a step back into normality as Mitchell Starc's opening offering was deflected by Martin Guptill.
The eager umpire
Neil Broom was leading New Zealand's middle-order resistance when he swivelled to pull Josh Hazlewood's first ball of the the 36th over, and both the bowler and the stand-in gloveman Pete Handscomb stifled half an appeal. To the surprise of just about everyone, the umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge responded by raising his finger to give Broom out - there were grounds to question whether or not the Australians had legitimately appealed for the catch. Fortunately for Broom, New Zealand still had their one decision review handy, and replays found no evidence of contact. Even as the batsman was reinstated, the Australians had some reason to think they too had won out of the episode - a delivery angled down the leg side and missed by the batsman had not been called a wide.
Given Eden Park's famously short boundaries, it was a surprise that the first six of the innings did not arrive until well into its progress - the 38th over. When the second was struck, also by Broom, it was the nearest run thing. Broom's upper cut off Starc flew high rather than long, and Hazlewood was able to weigh up his angles on the third man boundary. For a second it appeared he had got things exactly right, clasping a one-handed catch as his feet stayed inside the rope. But Hazlewood's nonplussed reaction betrayed what replays would soon show: he had just brushed the boundary with his left boot as he leaned back on taking the catch, and the umpire's arms were duly raised.
The run past
After he started the Australian summer as David Warner's Test opening partner, Shaun Marsh has been a peripheral figure due to a finger injury and the subsequent strong displays of others. But he was always likely to be chosen in Australia's Test squad for India on the strength of a hundred in Colombo last year, and the trip to New Zealand seemed an ideal way to get back into his stride at international level. However after making a sound start in the face of early wickets, Marsh's first sight of spin ahead of a tour likely to be packed with it did not exactly inspire confidence. Mitchell Santner's second ball was on a nice line and length, and spinning a little, but Marsh left an awfully large gap between bat and pad as he ran past it, having got nowhere near the pitch. Marsh, like most of his batting teammates, has plenty of hard work ahead.
The silly mid-on
As Marcus Stoinis dismembered New Zealand's bowlers, Kane Williamson held numerous conferences while trying to figure out a way to claim the last wicket. It is a truism of chases that the final few runs are often the most difficult, and it was a measure of Williamson's presence of mind that he was able to orchestrate a run-out by posting himself at a silly mid-on. It was the second such chance for Williamson to separate the last pair, and allowed New Zealand to squeak home.