New game - same Aussie dominance

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Australia is the world's best at Test and one-day cricket and it can playfully boast to being the world's top Twenty20 team after torching New Zealand at Eden Park last night.

Australia is the world's best at Test and one-day cricket and it can playfully boast to being the world's top Twenty20 team after torching New Zealand in an historic clash at Eden Park last night.

Australia claimed the first international Twenty20 match by 44 runs, riding Ricky Ponting's blast of 98 not out from 55 balls, including 30 runs from one over.

Michael Kasprowicz (4/29 from four overs) took wickets with his opening two deliveries to spoil New Zealand's run chase. The Kiwis were bowled out for 170 from the last ball of their 20 overs in reply to Australia's massive total of 5/214.

But the Twenty20 format was the success story last night, proving it had legs at international level after making its mark in English domestic cricket.

The crowd of almost 30,000 - one of the highest at Eden Park for years - didn't have much time to ask each other about the rules for Twenty20.

They saw 33 fours and 15 sixes in less than three hours and they were in such a good mood they even laughed when a smiling Glenn McGrath threatened to bowl an underarm delivery with the last ball.

"It was fun. It was a great spectacle and the crowd showed that everyone was excited about it," Ponting said.

"It's still hard to know (the future of Twenty20) because there are a lot of issues we have to work through with how we're going to fit it into an international program.

"It is difficult to play seriously because you have to go out and play almost against the way you would normally. But the novelty of it tonight was that the players haven't played much of it and the more you play the more you would understand.

"And if it does become an international game then I'm sure the novelty won't be there all the time, it will become a bit more serious."

Both teams looked uncertain at times adapting to the fast-forward format but Andrew Symonds and then Ponting and Mike Hussey thrived. Symonds smacked 32 from 13 balls and Hussey's unbeaten 31 from 18 helped inflate Australia's total.

Ponting at least drew respect, if not applause, from the Kiwi crowd when he smashed 30 runs from Daryl Tuffey's final over.

His ran out of time to post a century in an innings that started slowly before going mad but he became the first successful Twenty20 captain at international level. The Black Caps couldn't take much from the night except for the applause for their 1970s facial hair, grown after a challenge by a supporters group.

Their bowling figures were bleak - Tuffey, Kyle Mills, Andre Adams and former rugby international Jeff Wilson all conceded at least 40 runs from their four-over spells.

But Kasprowicz proved that bowlers could survive in the slogfest.

He had played two seasons of Twenty20 cricket with county team Glamorgan and the experience showed. He killed NZ hopes when removing Chris Cairns for one run after the Kiwis had looked beaten, needing 152 runs from the last 13 overs. Brisbane-born Scott Styris helped the Kiwis with 66 from 39 balls.

The match was an ideal tour opener for the Australians, who start their five-match one-day series in Wellington tomorrow. Both teams had wanted to build momentum from last night's game although Ponting knows the New Zealanders will be more comfortable in the 50-over level.

Captain Stephen Fleming and all-rounder Adams were the only Black Caps with previous Twenty20 experience. Fleming made 18 from 13 balls and Adams was run out for seven.

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