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Cricket: Black Caps overcome remarkable Marcus Stoinis innings to win thriller

Tim Southee celebrates the match winning runout from Kane Williamson of Josh Hazlewood. Photo / Getty
Tim Southee celebrates the match winning runout from Kane Williamson of Josh Hazlewood. Photo / Getty

The odds can betray you at Eden Park.

New Zealand were in control against Australia. Then they were submitted to one of the all-time great chasing innings from Marcus Stoinis in his second one-day international.

Stoinis, a picture of James Bond-like composure, swatted and dispatched the New Zealand attack to all parts on his way to 146 not out from 117 balls. He received a standing ovation on reaching the century. Then the crowd returned to gnawing at their collective fingernails.

It took an equal act of brilliance from Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson to run out Josh Hazlewood at the end of the 47th over. Hazlewood hadn't faced a ball, despite having been at the wicket 24 deliveries. Williamson stationed himself at silly mid-on for the purpose.

The winning runout. Photo / Getty
The winning runout. Photo / Getty

The hosts won by six runs, but it is an occasion that will thrill and terrify them when they reflect in years to come.

Stoinis' nursing of the tail was masterful. He even survived a review for caught behind at the end of the 46th.

The chase came out like a bolt out of the blue Auckland anniversary day sky as Australia limped to 54 for five after 13 overs in the absence of captain Steven Smith (injured), his deputy David Warner (rested), the next lieutenant Matthew Wade (injured) and senior batsman Usman Khawaja (rested).

The local crowd rode from ecstasy to potential oblivion and back over the course of the afternoon. Few will forget the extent of the tumult.

Australia were in the contest until Jimmy Neesham, on the deep mid-wicket boundary with his hand up as a visor to shield him from the western sun, caught Mitchell Starc to end the 43rd over. That was where you suspected the plot ended. Stoinis had other ideas.

It's easy to understand new Australian captain Aaron Finch's instinct in sending the hosts in: use whatever juice was in the drop-in pitch, then pepper the backyard-length 57m straight boundaries to extend the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy dominance they exhibited in December.

Eyes can become bigger than bat sweet spots and players can tend to use excessive force. Not for Stoinis. He was the sweet spot on his way to 11 sixes.

Marcus Stoinis at the end of the match after hitting 146*. Photo / www.photosport.co.nz
Marcus Stoinis at the end of the match after hitting 146*. Photo / www.photosport.co.nz

Trent Boult underlined his status as the world's No.1 ODI bowler, dismissing Finch and Travis Head in the fourth over as they forced catches to square leg and third man respectively. He conceded 18 runs as part of a Stoinis pelting in the 46th but his effort was notable.

At 10 for two, Australia disappeared down a batting rabbit hole, falling to 54 for five at the end of the 13th with Tom Latham featuring in the next three dismissals. He caught Peter Handscomb (Tim Southee's 150th ODI wicket) and Glenn Maxwell (off Lockie Ferguson), and stumped Shaun Marsh (off Mitchell Santner). All were regulation but will have afforded him confidence in his first ODI as a keeper since 2013. He moved with fluency and gave away no byes, although a more rigorous test will come when he bats longer into the New Zealand innings.

With Ferguson dismissing debutant Sam Heazlett for four, they slumped to 67 for six in the 19th over. Ferguson's pace was capped at 149km/h but he created hesitation and fear, notably when a player of Maxwell's confidence was recoiling.

Stoinis also took three for 49 with the ball.

New Zealand ebbed and flowed to 286 for nine, helped by 16 runs from Ferguson and Boult in the final over.

Overarching stability was provided by Neil Broom. He top-scored with 73 off 75 balls to bring the hosts back into the contest after they were restricted by a spate of wickets in the middle overs.

Stoinis' medium pacers looked innocuous by international standards, but when he pitched up, the right-armer blunted New Zealand's batting.

New Zealand looked capable of more at 83 for one when Stoinis joined the attack in the 14th over. By over's end, he had Williamson as his maiden ODI wicket.

Williamson looked to work the ball into the legside but extra bounce saw it balloon to Maxwell at backward point.

Williamson and Martin Guptill compiled 74 from 67 balls. Stoinis went on to remove Guptill for 61 off 73 balls in the 24th over and Colin Munro for two in the 26th. That left New Zealand vulnerable at 134 for five.

Guptill has been pivotal to New Zealand's chances in Chappell-Hadlee contests since last summer, averaging 62 from seven innings with a strike rate of 101 and never scoring less than 31.

In addition to Stoinis' effort, Starc, Hazlewood and James Faulkner used changes of pace to prevent the ball heading into stands which looked about as close as a suburban neighbour's driveway.

For New Zealand, the innings' survival rested with Neesham and Broom who put on 76 in 77 balls until Neesham pulled Head to deep mid-wicket for 48 off 45 balls. Broom continued the form he showed resurrecting his career against Bangladesh, posting his third consecutive ODI half-century.

Handscomb filled in as a late replacement for Wade who was sidelined with a back niggle. Handscomb, keeping with lightweight pads under his trousers, let eight byes through and missed a couple of sharp chances. Australia bowled 16 wides.

But that will all disappear into the ether when the match is recalled by history. Remember the name Stoinis, Marcus Stoinis.

- NZ Herald

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