Zampa zeroes in to light up deserted SCG

Scott Bailey
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CRICKET ODI GAME 1 AUSTRALIA NZ

Australia has beaten New Zealand by 71 runs in their opening ODI at an empty SCG

Adam Zampa bowled the ball of the summer but no-one was there to see it as Australia beat New Zealand by 71 runs behind closed doors at the SCG.

On a day when the coronavirus consumed the sporting landscape, Australia recorded their first ODI win in six matches.

With the pandemic leaving fans locked out just hours before the first ball was bowled, Aaron Finch (60) and David Warner (67) led Australia to 7-258 before Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh and Zampa bowled them to victory.

Cummins finished with an impeccable 3-25 from his eight overs as he troubled the Black Caps with his pace and bounce, strangling them out of the Chappell-Hadlee series opener.

Mitch Marsh took 3-29 for his best return in four-and-a-half years, while Josh Hazlewood bagged 2-37 as New Zealand finished all out for 187.

But it will be Zampa's wrong'un to dismiss Kane Williamson that will live longest in the highlights reels, even if there was nobody there to witness it in person.

The wrist spinner brought one back between the New Zealand captain's bat and pad to bowl him for 19 and in the process put a big dent in the Black Caps run chase.

Zampa later had Colin de Grandhomme caught on the long-on boundary for 25, exposing New Zealand's tail and ending any hope for the visitors.

His 2-50 continues a brilliant summer for the 27-year-old, who worked over Virat Kohli in India in January and is now easily Australia's first-choice spin bowler in white-ball cricket.

"He's getting better and better," captain Finch said.

"He is starting to understand his skills and plans a lot more now ... He is really clever with how he tried to set up batsmen.

"A lot of that comes down to the work he puts in. He's one of those guys who bowls for hours and he's starting to reap the rewards."

Earlier, Warner and Finch batted Australia into a position of dominance with a 124-run opening stand before the middle order again wobbled.

Warner powered nine boundaries in his 67 from 88 balls, and with no crowd present to applaud the feat took a while to realise he had brought up his 50 when he pulled Ish Sodhi to square leg.

Finch, who would have been out twice had decisions not gone in his favour, was particularly aggressive, whacking two sixes in his 60 from 75 balls.

One of those hoisted shots, off legspinner Sodhi, went deep into the vacant Bill O'Reilly Stand, leaving Lockie Ferguson to climb the fence to retrieve the ball.

"It was unique, something I haven't experienced before," Finch said.

"But I think all in all it was a pretty good result considering what has gone on around the world and sporting events being cancelled."

Marnus Labuschagne (56) also continued his golden summer, registering his eighth score over 50 in nine international innings on home soil.

He was again busy, with just 10 dot balls in his 52-ball knock as he regularly found ways to tick the strike over and find gaps in the field.

But there were still concerns for Australia at the finish as they only twice cleared the boundary and added just 64 in the final 10 overs.