The Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, marked his return to the side with a stunning, unbeaten century in Adelaide yesterday as they breezed into a 1-0 lead over New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.
The Aussies were set a target of 254 for 7 by the Black Caps in the first one-day international. But Ponting smashed 107 from 108 balls to see his side home under lights with seven wickets and more than seven overs to spare. Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden set the tone for the hosts' reply, reaching 69 in under seven overs.
Gilchrist smashed 51 from just 29 balls before falling to Chris Martin and thereafter it was the Ponting show. The Tasmanian, 33 next week, hit 14 fours. He lost no apparent momentum despite a break for rain and was helped along the way by Michael Clarke, the man who deputised for him as captain earlier this week and yesterday made 48.
A sparkling 96 from Brendon McCullum had earlier helped New Zealand to post what appeared to be a competitive total.
Wicketkeeper-batsman McCullum underpinned the Kiwis from the top of the order, but the fast bowler Shaun Tait took three wickets to peg the tourists back. Ross Taylor also contributed 50, and Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram added more runs in vain.