CRICKET: At least one Australian player suspected New Zealand would choose to bowl first if it won the toss at Manuka Oval yesterday.
Kane Williamson did win the toss, and he did send Australia in, and those words "we'll have a bowl” brought disastrous consequences.
Australia piled on 5-378, its second highest one-day international total at home and fourth best anywhere. New Zealand folded for 262 to lose by 116 runs and hand over the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy with one game, in Melbourne on Friday, left to play.
Everything seemed to roar "bat first” if the toss was won. That's what you do on the Manuka freeway.
But Williamson picked something up in the damp pitch that he figured his bowlers could utilise. Even then, evidently he agonised over the decision, probably fretting what might happen if he got it wrong.
Australian opener David Warner struck his sixth ODI ton this year, 119 off 115 balls, to help bury New Zealand, but he thought he followed Williamson's thinking - without necessarily agreeing with it.
"I thought they were probably going to bowl with the overcast conditions,” Warner said.
"Their best attribute is probably swinging the ball with the new rock and I think they tried to make the most of that.”
Australia has batted first in its last four games on the ground and sailed past 300 each time, and won each match.
"We knew batting first is always a plus and you try and keep wickets in hand for the last 10 overs,” Warner said.
He believed visiting teams fell into a trap in their chase and sensed they were dropping too far off the pace.
"They've got themselves into a great position but haven't been able to finish the game,” Warner said.
"When opposition teams come here I think they see that big gap (in runs needed and overs left) and the run rate going up and try and up the ante too early.”
New Zealand seamer Tim Southee acknowledged "hindsight is a wonderful thing” but the team felt the surface might have been sticky early.
"It hadn't been overly hot and sunny and there was a bit of rain around,” Southee said. "If we could have made inroads it could have been a different story.”
New Zealand's worst toss decision in recent years was in Brendon McCullum's first Test, at Cape Town in 2013.
He wanted to take South Africa on from the start, but New Zealand was blown away for just 45.
This one had a similarly awful outcome. Williamson will get over it but put it down as a tough lesson learnt.