Elliott guide BLACKCAPS home

A Grant Elliott half-century guided the BLACKCAPS to back-to-back one-day international cricket wins over Australia and left them one match away from snatching back the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in Melbourne tonight.

Elliott's 61 not out off 75 balls piloted New Zealand to their target of 226, by six wickets with seven balls to spare to go 2-0 up in the series and inflict Australia's fifth consecutive ODI defeat.

It was the allrounder's highest score in his 13th ODI, beating his 56 against England in Bristol last year, and it came at just the right time before an MCG crowd of just 28,251.

Rookie Neil Broom helped Elliott see the chase home with a quickfire 25 not out as the pair added an unbroken 50.

New Zealand can now clinch the five-match series early with victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

Having chosen to rest regular captain Ricky Ponting for two matches, Australia's fifth consecutive defeat equalled their losing run from two years ago, which included the 0-3 series defeat in New Zealand.

The tourists made hard work of the run chase, promoted opener Martin Guptill nicked out for eight and Peter Fulton suffering a similar fate against James Hopes after a breezy 21.

Vice-captain Brendon McCullum again looked below his best form as he battled 75 balls for 43, including three boundaries.

Just as he looked likely to build a winning partnership with Ross Taylor, McCullum cracked Hopes to short cover to make it 10 innings since he last topped 50 in an ODI (166 against Ireland last July).

Taylor stood firm and survived a crucial left-off from Michael Hussey, who dropped him on 37 on the mid-wicket boundary and ball trickled over the rope.

The next ball, from Hussey's brother David, went for four wides, then Elliott took consecutive boundaries off Ben Hilfenhaus in the next over.

Taylor then slogged out for 47 off the third ball of the batting powerplay, before Elliott and Broom took 30 off it, which left them needing 23 off 24.

An unchanged New Zealand side gave themselves a royal chance with another excellent bowling performance that mirrored their efforts in Perth.

They restricted Australia to 225 for five, a sub-par total boosted by stand-in captain Michael Clarke's innings of 98, and a 133-run fourth-wicket stand with Michael Hussey, who scored 75.

The pacemen did the job, Iain O'Brien taking two for 47 and Kyle Mills one for 37, while spinners Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel conceded a combined 73 runs off 18 overs. Only Tim Southee, who took one for 57, went for more than five per over.

Senior paceman Mills -- later snaffled for $US150,000 ($NZ298,388) by Indian Premier League (IPL) side Mumbai -- was excellent again as he compounded a miserable recent run for Australian rookie David Warner.

Having eked out seven singles in Perth, Warner slogged wildly at Mills on two and offered Vettori a simple catch at mid-off.

Fresh from a week of Glovegate controversy, Brad Haddin was promoted to No 3 in the rested Ricky Ponting's absence. He faced just 20 deliveries for 12 before he waved the bat at Tim Southee and touched an edge to McCullum.

David Hussey then took on Vettori in a suicidal run to mid-off and was run out by the captain's direct hit. It made it three Australian run-outs in two matches, after Ponting and Clarke in Perth.

Clarke and Hussey struggled to lift the rate and O'Brien removed both late in the innings, Clarke bowled off his pads and Hussey who slogged a catch to Vettori.

NZPA

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