PERTH - For New Zealand cricket captain Daniel Vettori, it didn't get much better than that.
Not only did he oversee perhaps the best bowling and fielding performance of his short captaincy reign, he showed a cool head when his young team needed him most to clip Nathan Bracken behind point for the winning runs off the final ball.
New Zealand fly to Melbourne today 1-0 up in the five-match Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series after their thrilling two-wicket win at a seething, sweltering WACA ground. After dismissing Australia for 181 off 48.4 overs, they deserved victory but made several attempts to throw it away.
When man of the match Kyle Mills and topscorer Ross Taylor (64) departed in the space of six deliveries they needed 12 off 15.
Vettori and Tim Southee needed five off the final over against left-armer Bracken, and when Southee was bowled going for the big hit off the second ball it looked bleak.
But No 10 Jeetan Patel stepped up with singles off both deliveries he faced and it was left to the skipper to score one off the final ball, circled by fielders.
"I talked to Tim and said `just make sure we get the tie then go from there'. It was all about getting five singles. That was the plan, fortunately we got there with Jeetan in the end, then whatever happened off the last ball happened," Vettori said.
His initial reaction was more relief than unbridled jubilation that would befit a rare victory on Australian soil. New Zealand's previous win over Australia at the WACA was a one-run thriller back in 1988.
"For our young guys who've never played here before, it's especially good for them because now they get a feel for what it's like to win here.
"A lot of us have got a few scars from previous tours, but within the group, so many young guys will be feeling good and confident."
Senior paceman Mills got the most plaudits after taking four for 35, then stepping into the No 7 spot with 26 off 35 balls to add 62 with the in-form Taylor and get them close. Taylor was the anchor New Zealand needed after Brendon McCullum was given lbw to Shaun Tait, second ball, when replays showed an inside edge.
He strode to the wicket after Broom's controversial dismissal for 29, bowled by Michael Clarke, when replays showed Australian gloveman Brad Haddin dislodged the bails and the ball missed the stumps.
Vettori said he was "disappointed" with Haddin while vanquished Australian captain Ricky Ponting backed his wicketkeeper's honesty.
It was a dark evening for Ponting who suffered just his third defeat in 25 matches as captain against New Zealand.
Australia also hit their lowest ODI ebb since the 2007 World Cup, losing their fourth in a row after the 1-4 series defeat to South Africa. Another New Zealand win in Melbourne on Friday will equal their five-match losing streak of early 2007 which included the 0-3 Chappell-Hadlee whitewash.
"There's not much you say really. There's not many positives to come out of the whole weekend, to tell you the truth," Ponting said.
The captain also has an interesting decision today, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting he planned to rest for the next three matches amid a hectic schedule. Those plans may now change with opener Shaun Marsh's hamstring strain which will likely rule him out of the series.
Everything went right for New Zealand in the field. Mills removed jittery openers Marsh and David Warner to catches from the strategically-placed Peter Fulton at short cover.
Then Broom ran out Ponting, attempting two to deep square leg, and Guptill matched his fellow rookie by throwing down Michael Clarke from wide third man.
Southee and O'Brien chipped in, Patel removed David Hussey with his first ball and Vettori conceded just 22 off 10 overs.
"We bowled in the right areas consistently... that's all I can ask of the bowlers, they were fantastic," Vettori said.
"It just worked today, everything worked, and it's a really nice feeling to captain a side when everything works."