A record-breaking century from Steve Smith has steered Australia to a famous win in the opening one-day international against New Zealand at the SCG on Sunday.
Smith smashed a memorable 164, the highest ODI score at the Sydney ground, to guide his side out of trouble and set up a 68-run victory.
Smith’s 157-ball knock, which included 14 fours and four sixes, not only anchored Australia’s innings, but further etched Smith’s name in to the record books.
Matthew Wade (38 off 22) and Travis Head (52) also played valuable late cameos as the home side posted 8-324 from 50 overs in front of a crowd of 22,502.
Watch highlights of Steve Smith’s innings below:
Smith’s century on Sunday was the highest in ODIs at the SCG, surpassing AB de Villiers’ brilliant 162 off 66 balls against the West Indies at the 2015 World Cup.
It was the fourth highest one-day score by an Australian on home soil, the seventh highest ODI score by an Australian and was the best 50-over innings of his career.
It was also the equal highest total by an Australian captain in an ODI, standing alongside Ricky Ponting’s innings in a memorable loss to South Africa at the Wanderers in 2006.
It was an important win for the Aussies who came into the series facing their sixth straight ODI defeat, after a 5-0 whitewash in South Africa.
Their world No.1 ranking was also under threat.
However they easily accounted for the Black Caps, who were bowled out for 256 from 44.2 overs, despite Martin Guptill’s 114 giving his side a sniff.
When Guptill skied Adam Zampa to substitute fielder Glenn Maxwell at midwicket, the game was as good as over with Josh Hazlewood (3-49) and Mitchell Starc (1-37) starring with the ball.
Pat Cummins (2-62) had a mixed night on his return to the international arena following a 15-month absence due to injury.
Black Caps captain Kane Williamson would have been kicking himself after failing to review an appeal when Smith was hit on the pads by Boult while on 14.
He was given not out lbw but replays showed it would have been overturned on review.
Later he conceded he should have been out on 14.
“I was glad they didn’t review it. I think it was out,” Smith said.
“Of course I’m glad. Not much was going through my head. I let it go pretty quickly.
“I thought (Boult) set me up pretty well. It wasn’t swinging any and I was moving across even further and then he got one to come back quite late. Fortunately, it got given not out.”
Smith was hit in line with off stump and New Zealand appealed confidently, but when he was given not out, the Kiwis declined to review the decision.
Replays showed he would have been given out had they referred it to the third umpire, with Smith making the most of his second life.
Glenn Maxwell controversy
Wade’s swashbuckling innings came after the media frenzy whipped up by teammate Glenn Maxwell during the week.
Maxwell, who was left out of Australia’s final XI but came on as a substitute fieldsman, was fined and reprimanded after criticising Wade’s captaincy and decision to bat above him in recent Sheffield Shield games for Victoria.
Steve Smith insists Glenn Maxwell remains available for the second one-dayer against New Zealand and he wasn’t demoted to carrying the water because of his loose lips.
The Aussies were in early trouble after openers Aaron Finch (0) and David Warner (24) were both out chopping on to their stumps.
When Mitchell Marsh was unluckily run out at the non-striker’s end after Jimmy Neesham deflected a Smith drive on to the stumps, the home side were at 4-92 in the 21st over.
Colin Munro (49), Neesham (34) and Matt Henry (27) were the only other Black Caps batsmen to pass double figures.
Earlier in the New Zealand innings, as they started to accelerate towards the target in the 25th over, BJ Watling tried a cut backward of point.
The Australian-born wicketkeeper hit his stroke cleanly and well wide of the Aussie skipper, but Smith flung himself to his left and snaffled one of the best catches of all time, in his off hand no less.
Watch Steve Smith’s incredible diving catch below: