Mitchell (no, not Johnson) Starc bowled the yorkers of death to put Australia to within one wicket of an unbelievable victory in the Pool A encounter of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, before Kane Williamson showed just why he is one of the best batsmen in world cricket today, with a shot and a half to take New Zealand home.
In what should have really been an easy, easy win for the Black Caps, after the bowlers, led by Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori, smashed through Australia to bowl them out for 151 in 32.2 overs, the New Zealand batsmen made hard work of the chase, with wickets falling like ninepins in front of a stunned Eden Park crowd, with the drama then culminating in the 23rd over and first ball of the 24th over.
At 131/5, New Zealand were only 21 runs away from victory, but Australia do not have "give up" in their DNA do they? Maxwell picked up Anderson, after he hit a shot to mid-on, and then Starc came roaring back to send Luke Ronchi packing, before Vettori threw his wicket away courtesy a poor shot off Cummins.
That was the cue for the drama, and what drama it was as Starc (9-0-28-6), with yorkers that would have got any batsman out, smashed Adam Milne and Tim Southee's stumps to get himself on a hat-trick.
However, Boult survived the hat-trick ball and then another one after that, allowing Williamson to take strike at the other end and finish the match off.
Williamson (45, 42b, 5x4, 1x6), the coolest man on the field as everyone else bit their fingers, was not going to hang around for more than one ball – a swing of that awesome bat of his saw the ball strike the middle and soar over mid-on for an easy six to prompt wild celebrations mixed with immense relief as New Zealand got out of jail and qualified for the quarterfinals with their fourth straight win.
Earlier, under such a hostile atmosphere at Eden Park in Auckland, Australia crumbled quicker than a cookie, as New Zealand, feeding off the support and the ridiculous momentum they have created already at this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, ran through the batsmen like knife on hot butter.
Australia, were caught cold, after a two-week break owing to their match against Bangladesh last week being abandoned, as they collapsed from 80/1 to 106/9, and then all out for 151 in 32.2 overs, with Daniel Vettori showing just why he is the master of ODI spin bowling, while Trent Boult took over the wicket-taking duties from Tim Southee with a ripper of a spell.
In reply to the small target, Brendon McCullum went berserk again, even after getting hit on the elbow by an express delivery from Mitchell Johnson, but Australia roared back just before the break, taking three Black Caps wickets.
Martin Guptill fell to Starc, mistiming a shot to mid-off, while McCullum, after hitting 50 off 24 balls (7x4, 3x6), did the same. Ross Taylor only lasted two deliveries before being castled by Mitchell Starc off the last delivery before the mid-innings break with New Zealand on 79/3 in 8.1 overs, needing another 73 runs for victory.
The first ball after the break, Starc had stumps flying over the place with Gran Elliott looking like a deer caught in headlights, and Australia suddenly sensed an improbable win, especially with the new man Corey Anderson looking nervous.
However, Anderson and the ever-impressive Williamson negotiated the tough little period of five overs or so, with the duo putting on 52 runs together to help New Zealand closer to victory, Williamson finished it off in dramatic style.
Vettori's value to this New Zealand side cannot be written about enough, and with Aaron Finch, scorer of that outstanding hundred at the MCG against England on CWC opening day, and David Warner, smashing through Southee and Boult, it was the man with the astute "I know what I am doing" arm who came in and triggered the chaos.
Southee, who went for 50 runs in his first six overs, though, was the one to send Finch packing early, as the right-hander, after smoking the bowler for a big six, was castled off a delivery that just tailed in a bit in the second ball of the third over.
Shane Watson came in and looked to carry on the momentum created by that early blazing start, and it looked like he was doing it too with Warner, only for Vettori (10-0-41-2) to be brought in by Brendon McCullum in the seventh over to put the brakes on.
Put the brakes on he did as he went for just 13 runs in his first 23 balls, when Australia were looking to go all guns blazing, and just like that the pressure was created and Watson holed out in the deep.
With Vettori sending Watson packing, that wee bit of momentum was created in New Zealand's favour again, and all it took was another ball to pick up the prized wicket of David Warner, who played around a Southee delivery which struck him in front of the wicket. A review was called for, but the decision stood as the ball tracker showed it would have just clipped the stumps.
Australia were still not in that big a trouble at 80/3 – yes, it is much worse than 80/1, but far from the end of the world – and with their two best batsmen in Michael I'm-finally-back Clarke and Steven Smith at the crease things should have been brought back under control, especially with the pitch not really having any demons in it.
Instead, Vettori came in, found the outside edge of Smith, which Luke Ronchi did well to hand on to and everything changed again.
Sensing a path to scythe through Australia, McCullum brought Boult back on, and he produced a stunning spell of 3-2-1-5.
It was an absolute train wreck from Australia, with Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh playing on to their stumps in the same over, before Michael Clarke drove one straight to Kane Williamson in the covers, with Mitchell Johnson doing the same soon after. Boult (10-3-27-5) got his five-for with the wicket of Mitchell Starc, who, looking like a cat on a hot tin roof, stayed rooted to his crease to a full delivery and found his middle stump cartwheeling soon after.
At 106/9, Brad Haddin (43, 41b, 4x4, 2x6) was the only hope for Australia, if they were to post a total that they might have a chance of defending, and the wicketkeeper/batsman did as much as he could with a No.11 in Pat Cummins (7 n.o., 30b, 1x4) doing exceedingly well at the other end, while teaching a thing or two to his more accomplished batsmen sitting in the dressing room, wondering what on earth happened.
Get the Scorecard of the Match HERE