Cameron Green, Alex Carey star as Australia seal thrilling victory

SYDNEY (Cricinfo): Cameron Green walked in after a top-order collapse, held his composure amid a late wobble and fought through severe cramps as Australia clinched a thrilling opening match to the Chappell-Hadlee series.

Green and Alex Carey added 158 for the sixth wicket after Trent Boult and Matt Henry sliced through Australia with the new ball to leave them 44 for 5 in the 12th over which included another failure for Aaron Finch. However, just when everything appeared in hand for Australia with 31 needed, Carey pulled to mid-on followed by Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc departing while Green ended up barely being able to run between the wickets.

There was one lengthy stoppage while he was treated by the physio, then Adam Zampa played a vital hand to take some of the pressure off, only for a final bit of late drama to come when a brief shower scudded across the ground. In the end, it was a rather anticlimactic wide from Lockie Ferguson which ended the game.

Green’s performance followed his maiden five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe in Townsville last week and he finished with the highest score of his international career.

For both Carey and Green there were subtle positional changes involved: Carey was moved back down to No. 6 with Marnus Labuschagne recalled and when the top order crumbled, Green came in ahead of Maxwell at No. 7. Carey’s first ODI century came from a not dissimilar position against England, at Old Trafford, in 2020 while Green showed the Test-match qualities which have already stood out.

Carey’s seventh ODI fifty came from 59 balls and Green’s first 61, both innings including crisp strokeplay and sharp running although the latter did bring one or two nervous moments. Green was dropped on 68 by Boult at fine leg from a top-edged hook and that appeared New Zealand’s last chance before the late twists.

Although Boult finished on the losing side his opening spell was a reminder to savour every chance there is to watch a master craftsman if, as appears likely, his appearances in bilateral series are limited from here on.

Finch could have allowed himself the chance to bat under the afternoon sunshine, but instead wanted a chase. He may have regretted that when he faced up to Boult in the evening. A chancy single into the off side, which became a five with overthrows, opened his account but he could not see out Boult’s over when the left-armer swung one back into his front pad.

At the non-striker’s end David Warner appeared to signal it could be shaping down the leg side and after a conversation Finch called for the review, but the first replay showed it was going to be futile and the eventual ball-tracking confirmed it could not have been more out. He might have two innings left to leave his ODI future in his own hands.

Not that he was alone in finding Boult too good. Having been beaten the ball before, Steven Smith inside-edged a big drive into his stumps, then in his next over Boult produced another sharp nip-backer which caught Labuschagne on the crease.

Henry formed a threatening double-act, cutting one back to clean up Marcus Stoinis after Warner had nailed a pull straight to deep square-leg. However, New Zealand could not find wickets from elsewhere through the middle phase although Ferguson could consider himself unfortunate, having caused problems with his pace.

Both captains spoke of the “unknown” conditions before the game at a venue hosting international cricket for the first time since 2004. After New Zealand were put in, Devon Conway, Kane Williamson and Tom Latham all worked hard to get into the 40s before falling to spin, the latter two to Maxwell who struck three times in his third and final spell. Maxwell finished with the second-best figures of his ODI career and the last 10 overs for New Zealand read 60 for 6 with Josh Hazlewood also bagging three at the death.

Martin Guptill, who was given caught behind in the first over but successfully reviewed could not get going – the six runs he scored came off the first two balls of the game – as he was tied down by Starc and Hazlewood, who both bowled maidens to him. Then, in the fifth over, Guptill drove, getting a thick outside edge towards backward point where Maxwell pulled off a stunning piece of fielding, diving full length to his left to grab a chance that appeared destined to elude him.

Conway’s early caution began to get rewarded when he danced down to Green to loft him over cover for six. He had given himself an excellent foundation when he swept at Zampa and was out lbw. Having barely nudged four an over for much of the first half of the innings there was a sign of a gear-change from Williamson and Latham. But right on the 30-over mark, Williamson departed when he toe-ended a slog-sweep against Maxwell to deep midwicket.

Latham and Daryl Mitchell built steadily through the next 10 overs to leave New Zealand 172 for 3 after 40 and with a chance to finish strongly with wickets in hand. However, Maxwell derailed those plans when he removed both set betters in the 42nd over – Mitchell chipping to midwicket and Latham sweeping – before adding Michael Bracewell in his next.

When Boult put on a show, it looked like New Zealand would have enough but instead their wait for a win in Australia went on. At least for another couple of days.