Johnson headbutts Styris but Kiwis stand tall again

The Age

Thursday March 4, 2010


MITCHELL Johnson headbutted Scott Styris as Australia's five-year one-day international losing streak in New Zealand continued.Australia made 8-275 but was unable to defend it. Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum again blazed away to make 45 from 43 balls and stand-in skipper Ross Taylor compiled a punishing 70 to be man of the match, but Styris became the hero of the two-wicket victory.The hosts had lost captain Daniel Vettori to a pre-game neck strain before Jacob Oram hyper-extended his knee while fielding. Jogging to intercept a gentle push to mid-wicket from Mike Hussey, Oram's spikes stuck in the grass and he crashed to the turf. His predicament left the Kiwis one batsman short, making their successful run chase all the more meritorious.Johnson became angry when Styris hit him for successive boundaries in the 46th over. He went back to his mark and pointed at his head to threaten a bouncer. He pitched his next ball up and when it went for four, he walked down the pitch, exchanging words. Johnson and Styris got in each other's faces before Johnson thrust his head forward. Not that Styris felt any pain he was wearing a helmet.After ill-feeling from the crowd towards Australia's Shane Watson and Shaun Tait in the Twenty20 series, it was Johnson's turn to feel the spectators' wrath.Styris finished with a match-winning 45 off 34 balls and secured victory by hitting Doug Bollinger for six over long off.Australia's last ODI triumph in New Zealand was a two-run victory at Wellington in 2005. International Cricket Council match referee Ranjan Madugalle was yet to announce any action against Johnson or Styris for their heated clash.McCullum's devil-may-care batting was a sight to behold before Bollinger unsettled the woodwork. Taylor looked likely to be the key wicket as he passed his half-century and NZ pursued five runs an over from midway through its chase.Taylor and James Franklin had added 69 runs for the fifth wicket, Franklin contributing just 12 as Taylor opened his shoulders. Australian off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, having expressed his reservations about bowling with such small boundaries square of the wicket, again did everything captain Ricky Ponting could ask of him and more, having Franklin caught behind by wicketkeeper Brad Haddin right when Australia desperately needed a wicket.Watson took the vital wicket of Taylor, caught on the fence at midwicket from a failed pull shot. Hussey gripped the ball tightly with both hands as he ran towards the jubilant Australians. The mood didn't last as long as expected.Earlier, Watson had continued his thumping form, sending the first ball from Tim Southee. Southee was being feted as some sort of miracle worker after three tight overs at the end of New Zealand's Twenty20 triumph at Christchurch but Watson and the rest of the Australians put him in his place by taking 66 runs from his eight overs.Hussey top-scored for Australia with 59 while Ponting added 44 on a difficult two-paced pitch. The Kiwis were expected to struggle chasing under lights against a potent Australian pace attack but a 75-run opening stand between McCullum and Peter Ingram (40 off 41 balls) instilled belief. The crowd of 8527 at the provincial McLean Park was on its feet when Styris landed the killer blow with only four balls to spare.

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