Dharamsala | Travis Head's bulldozing hundred and a mangling fifty by David Warner helped Australia survive a middle-order meltdown to post a massive 388 all out against New Zealand in their World Cup match here on Saturday.
Head (109 off 67 balls), Warner (81 off 65 balls) were destructive upfront, and the Aussies found steam through some late-order biffing as Kiwis now will have to mount the highest chase in ODI World Cups.
It currently stands in the name of Pakistan, who chased 345 against Sri Lanka at Hyderabad on October 10.
Head, who replaced Cameron Green in the playing 11, and Warner garnered 175 runs in a mere 19.1 overs during a thundering opening alliance.
Head was over-aggressive in his partnership with Warner, taking on New Zealand bowlers with disdain, and it was tough to imagine that this was actually his first match of the tournament.
The left-hander replaced Mitchell Marsh, who came in at No. 3, at the pole position and never really made Australia felt the absence of the big-hitting 'Bison'.
Fortune also favoured Head while cruising to his fourth ODI hundred. He was dropped by Mitchell Santner off his own bowling when the batter was on 70. Aussies were 143 for no loss then.
Five runs later, Glenn Phillips at covers allowed the ball whizz through his hands as Head tried to clatter spinner Rachin Ravindra.
But those blips apart, Head and Warner were super smooth at the crease, pulling, cutting and driving at will to make runs around the field.
It has also to be said that the Kiwis bowlers, normally a frugal unit under Trent Boult, could not hit the right lines on this day and their fielders too remained butterfingered, dropping as many as five catches.
New Zealand were also not helped by the absence of pacer Lockie Ferguson, who conceded 38 runs in three overs, as he left the field with pain in his right Achilles.
The two left-handed batters exploited those lapses and slices of fortune to the hilt. In fact, Warner reached his fifty in 28 balls and Head his half-century in 25 balls.
It was also the second occasion in ODIs when both the openers recorded 50s inside 30 balls.
The Aussie pair of Head and Marsh had done it against India earlier this March at Visakhapatnam in the second ODI.
With the openers in overdrive 118 runs cascaded in the first Power Play which contained a total of 10 sixes – six by Warner and four by Head.
But the breaks came in after Warner's dismissal, caught by spinner Phillips off his own bowling.
The spin trio of Phillips, Santner and Ravindra stifled the Australian middle-order as the pitch too seemed to have tempered down a bit at this juncture.
Phillips cleaned up Head with a quicker one, while Marsh, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne also fell to the gang of slow men as the Aussies lost four wickets for 74 runs in that period.
The five-time champions needed some momentum from 274 for five, and Glenn Maxwell (41 off 24 balls), Josh Inglis (38 off 28 balls) and captain Pat Cummins (37 off 14 balls) provided that.
Maxwell and Inglis milked 62 runs between 44.4 and 47th over.
Scoreboard of the World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand here on Saturday.
David Warner c&b Phillips 81
Travis Head b Phillips 109
Mitchell Marsh b Santner 36
Steven Smith c Boult b Phillips 18
Marnus Labuschagne c Ravindra b Santner 18
Glenn Maxwell c Boult b Neesham 41
Josh Inglis c Phillips b Boult 38
Pat Cummins lbw b Boult 37
Mitchell Starc c Neesham b Henry 1
Adam Zampa b Boult 0
Josh Hazlewood not out 0
Extras: (B-1, NB-2, W-6) 9
Total: (All out in 49.2 overs) 388
Fall of wickets: 1-175, 2-200, 3-228, 4-264, 5-274, 6-325, 7-387, 8-388, 9-388, 10-388
Bowling: Matt Henry 6.2-0-67-1, Trent Boult 10-0-77-3, Lockie Ferguson 3-0-38-0, Mitchell Santner 10-0-80-2, Glenn Phillips 10-0-37-3, Rachin Ravindra 8-0-56-0, James Neesham 2-0-32-1.