Auckland, Jan 30:
New Zealand scraped home in the first one-dayer against Australia today but only after rookie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis’ fell agonisingly short of dragging his team to victory with an unbeaten 146.
In just his second ODI, Stoinis took three wickets then flayed the New Zealand attack as the Australians chased a target of 287 runs at Auckland’s Eden Park.
He came to the crease with Australia reeling at 54 for five and calmly set about rebuilding after his more experienced teammates had squandered their wickets.
His 146 was a record ODI score for an Australian number seven batsman and included 11 sixes and nine fours.
Remarkably, the 27-year-old’s last partnership with Josh Hazlewood was worth 54, but Hazlewood did not face a single ball as Stoinis stayed on strike trying to guide Australia home.
His heroics prevented a trouncing in the opening match of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, sparing Australia’s blushes after they rested their star batsmen for the series.
The tourists left David Warner and Usman Khawaja out of the squad to protect them for the upcoming Test series in India, then lost captain Steve Smith and wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade to injury.
But the players expected to offer leadership in their absence failed to step up and the Australians crumbled before Stoinis arrived.
Their woes were largely caused by rash or careless shots, not demons in a pitch on which the New Zealanders had batted solidly.
Relative newcomers such as Travis Head (5) and Peter Hanscomb (4) could be forgiven for a rush of blood to the head at the sight of the short Eden Park boundaries.
However, stand-in captain Aaron Finch (4), Shaun Marsh (16) and Glenn Maxwell (20) — all with 50-plus ODIs — are likely to face tough questions over the performance. (PTI)