Andrew Symonds blasted the third highest one-day international score in history with a brilliant 156 to lead Australia to a thrilling two-run victory over New Zealand yesterday, securing the Chappell-Hadlee series with a game to spare.
Australia recovered from a shaky start to post an imposing 322-5 but New Zealand chased the total to the very end. They fell only in the final over when they lost two wickets and could only score three of the six runs needed for victory.
Symonds and Test reject Michael Clarke (82 not out) came together for a partnership of 220, the highest ever fifth wicket partnership for Australia against New Zealand.
After a watchful start, Symonds smashed 12 fours and eight sixes in his 127-ball innings, the highest ever one-day international score against New Zealand.
He hit two straight sixes off Kyle Mills in the 47th over and another three off consecutive balls in the following over from Chris Cairns to demolish a demoralized Kiwi attack.
Symonds crashed 56 runs off his last 18 balls and Cairns had good reason to rue dropping him off the bowling of Jacob Oram in the 19th over when he had scored just 13.
Clarke played a vital role in supporting his teammate, coming in when the innings was delicately poised at 101 for four in the 22nd over. His unbeaten 82 came off 77 balls and included nine fours.
In a thrilling climax, New Zealand scored 18 runs in the 49th over bowled by Brett Lee, which including two boundaries, two no balls and a wide.
Needing only six from the final over, New Zealand lost their composure with Brendon McCallum (48) and Kyle Mills both run out to end the innings with one ball remaining.
Australia's debutant bowler Mick Lewis belied his lack of international experience in the last over, conceding only three runs with immaculately placed deliveries and running out Mills to crush the Kiwis' hopes. He finished a day to remember with the best Australian figures of 3-56.
New Zealand opener Lou Vincent chose a high-risk but successful strategy in opening the run chase, attacking Australia's opening bowlers Lee and Nathan Bracken. Despite pulling a thigh muscle and bringing on a runner, his bold stroke-making seemed little affected.
But a wild swing at Lewis gave an edge to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist, ending Vincent's swashbuckling innings of 71 off 48 balls including nine fours and two sixes.
From 93 without loss, the New Zealand innings lost momentum with five wickets falling for just 63 runs.
New Zealand saw a glimmer of hope when all-rounders Cairns and Jacob Oram came together and set about repairing the damage. But Oram's dismissal for 41 off 40 balls in the 45th over appeared to snuff out New Zealand's chances with nearly 10 runs an over required.
McCallum refused, however, to concede defeat and the home side came agonizingly close, restoring their pride after their humiliating 147-run capitulation in the first match.