SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia captain Steve Smith blasted a career best 164, the highest one-day international innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground, to lead the hosts to an imposing 324 for eight against New Zealand on Sunday.
Having lost their last five matches on tour in South Africa, Australia were hoping for an emphatic victory to bring an end to a week where a row between batsman Glenn Maxwell and wicketkeeper Matt Wade dominated the headlines.
Maxwell was handed a team fine on Saturday for his criticism of Wade’s captaincy of the Victoria state team, which Smith dubbed “disrespectful”, and ordered to carry the drinks as 12th man.
Smith, having won the toss, was soon imposing a similarly firm control over the New Zealand bowlers, hammering 14 fours and four sixes in a 157-ball masterclass on a balmy summer’s afternoon at his home ground.
He had some help from the Black Caps, wicketkeeper BJ Watling put down a tough chance when Smith was on 13 and Colin Munro another when he was on 152, but also some solid assistance from his team mates.
Travis Head, dropped by Matt Henry on seven, scored 52 in a 127-run partnership for the fifth wicket and Wade’s 38 helped add another 83 for the sixth.
That stand was ended with the departure to rapturous applause of Smith, who miscued a Trent Boult delivery high into the air over midwicket which Munro managed to hold onto.
New Zealand speedster Lockie Ferguson was handed his debut and David Warner welcomed him to international cricket with a four straight back past him.
Ferguson, bowling with genuine pace, had the last laugh from the final ball of the over, however, when the Australian opener chopped on to depart for 24.
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly