The New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, is looking forward to a "good old heave-ho" against England tomorrow after watching his side's attempt to edge closer to the Commonwealth Bank Series final thwarted by Australia in Melbourne yesterday.
The Black Caps were powerless to prevent the Australians from clinching a five-wicket win yesterday with 10 balls to spare, Ricky Ponting smashing 104 and Brad Hodge 99 not out as the home side broke the record for the highest successful run chase in a one-day international at the MCG by making 291 for 5.
The result means New Zealand remain on nine points in the series table alongside England to set up a winner-takes-all match in Brisbane for the right to meet Australia in the best-of-three final. "It's a semi-final-type scenario so it's good preparation for the World Cup," Fleming said. "I hope the conditions in Brisbane are as good as they were here and we can have a good old heave-ho."
New Zealand dominated for much of the game only to be undone by the batting of Ponting and Hodge. "It's a shame we couldn't put this one away," Fleming said. "We are asking Australia to play good cricket and they are doing that. They had a slip against England and we wish it was against us; it was not to be."
New Zealand posted 290 for 7 in their 50 overs - Lou Vincent top-scoring with 90 - to put real pressure on the Australians. Ponting was pleased with the way they rose to the challenge.
He said: "Any time when you are under pressure, chasing a big total, to come through like this is always satisfying. I couldn't see the innings through but Hodgie played a knock he will never forget. Most of our guys looked good with the bat but there is work to do."
Andrew Symonds, the Australia all-rounder, faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup after undergoing surgery on his right biceps, which he injured against England.
New Zealand won toss
L Vincent b Tait 90
*S P Fleming c Hussey b Lee 9
P G Fulton lbw b Clarke 60
R L Taylor b Clarke 21
S B Styris c Hussey b Clark 34
J D P Oram c Hodge b Lee 15
ÝB B McCullum b Clark 19
D L Vettori not out 3
J E C Franklin not out 13
Extras (b2 lb11 w9 nb4) 26
Total (for 7, 50 overs) 290
Fall: 1-12, 2-163, 3-188, 4-212, 5-233, 6-269, 7-275.
Did not bat: M R Gillespie, S E Bond.
Bowling: Lee 10-0-71-2 (nb3 w4), Tait 10-1-26-1, Clark 10-1-61-2 (nb1 w1), Johnson 7-0-48-0 (w1), Clarke 9-0-45-2 (w2), White 4-0-26-0 (w1)
ÝA C Gilchrist b Franklin 29
M L Hayden c Taylor b Franklin 28
*R T Ponting c Vincent b Gillespie 104
M J Clarke c McCullum b Vettori 9
B J Hodge not out 99
M E K Hussey run out 8
C L White not out 1
Extras (lb-1 w-3 nb-9) 13
Total (for 5, 48.2 overs) 291
Fall: 1-56, 2-65, 3-112, 4-266, 5-279
Did not bat: B Lee, S R Clark, S W Tait, M G Johnson.
Bowling: Franklin 10-0-56-2 (nb-3), Bond 9-0-64-0 (nb-2 w-1), Gillespie 8.2-0-45-1 (nb-1), Oram 5-0-44-0 (nb-1), Vettori 10-0-55-1 (nb-2 w-2), Styris 6-0-26-0.
Man of the match: R T Ponting (Aus).
Umpires: Asad Rauf (Pak) and S J Davis
Australia win by five wickets
P W L T NR Pts R/R
Australia 8 7 1 0 0 31 0.67
New Zealand 7 2 5 0 0 9 0.03
England 7 2 5 0 0 9 -0.73