Scott Styris, New Zealand's match-winner in a thrilling opening fixture in Napier in the five-match ODI series against Australia, has said his 34-ball 49 ranks high in his list of best innings, for it came in a crucial series against the world's best opposition in the 50-over format. Styris' knock helped New Zealand chase down 276; he smashed a six off the second ball of the 50th over to seal a two-wicket victory.
"I'd have to say it rates pretty highly, because any time you can be the guy at the end and win a game you've obviously got to be happy," Styris said after the game. "When you couple that with the fact that it's Australia, the No 1 team in the world, it's even better.
"Dan (Vettori) has said this series will define how New Zealand's gone this summer, so to get the guys up and hopefully win this series is a great feeling." Styris, who had been ignored for the home series against Bangladesh, was not meant to be in the playing 11 but came in as a last-minute replacement for Vettori, who sat out due to a neck injury.
"I was a little bit rusty to start with. I haven't had an innings for a couple of weeks so it took me a little bit to get going but the wicket out here was top drawer and great for batting, and thankfully once the Powerplay came I was able to get my shots away," he told Radio Sport. "To win back-to-back games, albeit in different versions of the game, is a good start for us. Hopefully they know they've got a contest now and we're here to play."
The victory also marked a successful beginning as captain for Ross Taylor. He was named Man of the Match for his 70, which, laced with six fours and a six, set up New Zealand's chase.
"I'm retiring now," he quipped. "I got a text from Dan about 10.45am saying 'I'm a bit iffy, you might be captain', so I started getting ready then but I still thought he would be okay. I didn't really know the extent his neck was playing up. I'm pretty happy with the result."
Ricky Ponting admitted a total of 275 was inadequate on a ground with short boundaries. "I probably felt all night we were just a little bit behind," Ponting told Sky Sports. "I didn't think 275 was enough runs on that wicket. The ground is so small and the wicket was very good right through the game."
Australia had an unbeaten summer at home, but have now been beaten in two consecutive games - they were on the receiving end of a Super Over defeat in the second Twenty20 international against New Zealand. "It's never nice to lose a game," Ponting said. "But any loss you have, you always learn more from a loss than a win, so we've got to look at what we did wrong tonight and make sure we train better leading up to the next game.
"That's the important thing now. I've just had a quick chat with the guys in there about the way we executed things tonight and just some of our shortcomings. It's up to the group now to respond well."