A classical captain's knock by centurion Suzie Bates propelled New Zealand to a crushing eight-wicket victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground today as the White Ferns snapped a 12-match one-day international losing streak against nemesis Australia.
Bates was undefeated on 122 when Sara McGlashan clubbed the match-winning boundary with a ball remaining in the 45th over to give New Zealand the ideal start to the four-match Rose Bowl series, and after accepting the player of the match award she described her third ODI century as a career highlight.
"I think that's number one. To score runs like that against a quality side and get the victory is one of my proudest moments," said Bates, whose previous tons were compiled against India and Pakistan.
The stylish opener brought up the milestone with her 15th boundary and added another four and a six during a chanceless innings that spanned 131 balls.
New Zealand's first ODI win over Australia since 2009 had only one downside - Amy Satterthwaite was denied her maiden ODI hundred by just two runs when she was dislodged by Meg Lanning, who experienced her own heartache as she closed in on triple figures.
Satterthwaite at least had the consolation of knowing her highest one-day score contributed mightily to New Zealand's confidence-boosting upset.
Bates and her vice-captain combined to produce a game-sealing stand of 168 runs from 169 balls as Australia's much-vaunted bowling attack was shredded before New Zealand cruised to 252 for two.
Satterthwaite and Bates clipped their runs at a rapid 5.96 per over to compensate for the early demise of Lucy Doolan and ensure new coach Katrina Keenan's two-week old reign got off to a dream start.
New Zealand should have been chasing less than 249 though an eighth-wicket stand between Jodie Fields and Erin Osborne was ultimately immaterial.
Satterthwaite set the tone for the chase by reaching her seventh ODI half century from 49 balls with her ninth boundary and rollicked along to eclipse her previous highest score of 81, compiled against the Australians at Invercargill in 2010.
A century appeared a formality until she was stuck on the pad by a fullish delivery from Lanning to close the 35th over.
She faced 95 balls and struck 16 fours to reprise a rich vein of form that started with back-to-back fifties against England at Lincoln in March.
"It's sad Amy went out when she did, she deserved a hundred," said Bates as she reflected on one of the most satisfying partnerships she had been party to.
Typically Bates also deflected praise to her bowlers who knocked over Australia for 248 in the penultimate over.
"It looked like they were going to score 300 at one stage so the way we came back with the ball is how we won the game. It gave us the chance to chase at our own pace," she said.
Australia's total was bookended by magnificent 80s - a masterful 87 by Lanning and a potentially obstructive 80-run partnership between tailenders Fields and Osborne.
So assured was Lanning it was her footwear - not footwork - that proved her undoing when Fields tapped a ball to the leg side.
Lanning, who struck 13 boundaries and a six in her 71-ball knock, set off then turned, toppled over and was well short of her ground when Erin Bermingham broke the stumps.
Undeterred by the unfortunate loss of her partner and Lanning's replacement Rachael Hayne a run later, Fields (51) and Osborne combined to frustrate the White Ferns for 82 deliveries.
Medium pacer Rachel Candy eventually broke the partnership when Osborne (34) was caught behind -- the third scalp of her attack-spearheading haul of 4-35.
Game two is on Friday at North Sydney Oval, the venue for the remainder of the series.
Scoreboard from the opening Rose Bowl one-day cricket international played between Australia and New Zealand at the Sydney Cricket Ground:
M Lanning run out (Bermingham)87
L Poulton c Nielsen b Ruck11
J Cameron lbw b Candy6
L Sthalekar lbw b Candy8
A Blackwell std Martin b Nielsen 5
S Coyte c Doolan b Bermingham18
J Fields c Martin b Candy51
R Haynes c Doolan b Nielsen1
E Osborne c Martin b Candy34
J Jonassen c Bates b Ruck3
S Millanta not out0
Extras (6lb 15w 3nb)24
Total (all out, 48.1 overs)248
Fall: 44, 54, 86, 97, 148, 156, 157, 237, 248, 248
Bowling: S Ruck 9.1-1-37-2 (1w), N Browne 2-0-18-0 (4w 2nb), M Nielsen 10-3-39-2 (1w), R Candy 9-0-35-4 (2w), E Bermingham 10-0-47-1 (3w), L Doolan 3-0-31-0, S Bates 5-0-35-0 (1w)
L Doolan c Sthalekar b Millanta10
S Bates not out122
A Satterthwaite lbw b Lanning98
S McGlashan not out17
Extras (1lb 4w)5
Total (for 2 wkts, 44.5 overs)252
Fall: 27, 197
Bowling: S Millanta 7.5-0-42-1 (1w), J Jonassen 7-0-37-0 (1w), S Coyte 8-1-45-0, L Sthalekar 10-0-46-0, E Osborne 6-0-29-0, R Haynes 2-0-22-0, M Lanning 4-0-30-1 (1w)
Result: NZ win by 8 wkts, lead four match series 1-0
Player of the match: Suzie Bates
Should the NZ selectors pick Jesse Ryder if he's available?