Australia played their way back into the Twenty20 series with blazing bats, pace like fire and drop-it-on-a-dime spin – just a shame nobody was there to see it.
The visitors won by a crushing 64 runs as the series moved into its level 2 lockdown phase. There was something else missing from New Zealand's performance that could also be put down to illness – a sixth bowling option.
Mitchell Santner was ruled out after feeling unwell and isolating, leaving Kane Williamson with five bowlers. It proved an expensive absence, with Australia's out-of-form captain Aaron Finch (69) and Glenn Maxwell (70) feasting on the predictable attack.
By contrast, by the time Australia had got through their first 10 overs, seven bowlers had been used.
Australia's 208-4 was always going to be a tough ask, even tougher when the New Zealand batsmen discovered they would be facing some serious heat.
Riley Meredith, a 24-year-old Tasmanian, was playing his first T20I – it won't be his last.
He didn't take long to work up 150kph-plus pace and it was too much for Tim Seifert, whose ordinary 2021 continued. He now has three single-figure scores in three matches against Australia.
The first is always special but in this case the second was better, trapping the skipper Williamson as he shuffled across to try to whip it over midwicket.
He should have made it three, too, when Marcus Stoinis dropped a straightforward Devon Conway chance at cover.
For a brief moment, Martin Guptill (43) and Conway (38) looked capable of pulling off something a bit special but when the latter holed out to deep square, the crowd, had there been one, could have been forgiven for drifting towards the exits.
His was the middle wicket in a remarkable Ashton Agar (6-30) over that saw three wickets and two runs.
The teams now head to… Wellington again, with the momentum seemingly in Australia's favour after a strong finish in a losing cause in Dunedin and a comfortable win here. They would do well to remember how quickly things can change.
Just ask the skipper.
Finch got Lotto-ticket lucky. Struck on the pads first ball to an ecstatic Tim Southee, everything about it looked out apart from the lack of elevation in umpire Chris Gaffaney's arm. To the television umpire it went and it duly showed the ball to be crashing into leg stump, but a millimetre inside the "umpire's call" parameters.
Matthew Wade didn't last long, crashing Trent Boult through the covers before nicking out to Guptill at first slip.
You could argue that it should have been a keeper's catch but Seifert was rooted to the spot, much like he was early in Josh Philippe's innings when he skied one to third man that barely left the 30m circle. Instead he left it for Boult coming in who never stood a chance.
That miss was off Kyle Jamieson, who really could use a lift from his field. As it was he got balls dropping between the infield and the deep men, dropped at deep cover, inside edges squirting past the stumps, outside edges finding the boundary – the sort of misfortune you get when you're seven matches into a T20I career, have taken just four wickets and have gone for close to 10 per over.
Philippe's luck couldn't last. He finally got enough on one of his chip shots into the outfield to find the butterfly-net hands of Guptill, but the 83-run partnership gave Australia a platform for all-out attack.
They accepted the invitation, with Finch and Maxwell spending a lot of time batting reverse, or switch, whatever you want to call it.
When Finch left, Maxwell feasted on some ordinary bowling. James Neesham has never been a frontline bowling option and was possibly as surprised as anybody when asked to bowl his full quota. It was a disastrous decision.
Maxwell's eyes lit up as the hapless Neesham found the middle of his bat with astonishing accuracy – 28 runs later Williamson could remove the hands front in front of eyes (and wonder why he didn't give the left-arm sliders of Mark Chapman a roll).
Neesham's horror return of 0-60 is the second-most expensive in New Zealand T20I history (and the only thing that could make his night worse happened, when he was out for a first-ball duck).
New Zealand were desperately missing their T20I middle-overs linchpin in Santner and it showed.
They still lead the series 2-1, but they need to find some cheap overs – and fast.