Left-arm pacemen Trent Boult (five for 27) of New Zealand and Australia’s Mitchell Starc (six for 28) took career-best bowling figures in one-day internationals, but it was the Black Caps that just got over the line.
They appeared set to make a statement of intent after Trent Boult took five wickets in 18 balls as Australia collapsed from 80 for one to 106 for nine, before being bowled out for 151 in 32.2 overs.
Several of their batsmen were guilty of poor shots, but Brendon McCullum once again thrived where others failed with a blistering half-century in New Zealand’s reply.
While his dismissal prompted a wobble, New Zealand appeared to be coasting before they lost a rash of wickets, with Starc coming to the fore, but Kane Williamson (45 not out) smashed a six to get his side to their victory target with 26.5 overs to spare.
It was New Zealand’s fourth successive victory in Pool A and ensured Michael Clarke’s playing return in Australian colours ended in defeat.
Clarke, playing his first ODI since November last year, opted to bat first and it appeared a shrewd decision when the expensive Tim Southee’s first over went for 15 runs.
The New Zealand seamer, who took seven for 33 last time out against England, hit back to uproot Aaron Finch’s off-stump.
But Australia’s assured start showed no signs of slowing down as they passed 50 in the sixth over until the introduction of slow left armer Daniel Vettori brought New Zealand back into the contest.
Neither David Warner nor Shane Watson seemed keen to take any risks against the wily spinner but a rush of blood led to Watson holing out to deep square-leg for 23.
Watson’s downfall precipitated the start of a jaw-dropping collapse from Australia, who lost Warner to the very next delivery when the left-hander was given out for 34 after being trapped in front by Southee, with the decision standing despite a review.
Steve Smith edged behind off Vettori before Boult took centre stage, with Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh chopping onto their own stumps within the space of three balls.
Clarke’s innings ended on 12 after a limp push to short cover and Johnson followed in similar fashion before his fellow left-arm paceman Boult completed his maiden ODI five-for by removing Starc’s middle stump.
That left Australia reeling and although Haddin led a brief recovery alongside last man Pat Cummins in a final-wicket partnership of 45, his resistance was ended when he edged to short third man for 43.
New Zealand, led by McCullum, who thumped 77 off 25 balls against England, made a similar start to Australia.
McCullum clubbed his second ball for six to set the tone of his innings and although he lost Martin Guptill early on, the Black Caps captain continued to flay the Australian attack.
Johnson came in for some particular punishment although the fiery left-arm paceman did leave his mark on McCullum with a rising delivery that left a nasty bruise on the batsman’s arm.
McCullum pushed on, though, and brought up his 50 off just 21 deliveries, with seven fours and three sixes, although he was dismissed three balls later after slapping Cummins to mid-off.
Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott were bowled off successive deliveries either side of the interval by Starc to set New Zealand nerves jangling.
Williamson steadied their nerves, but they then lost five wickets in the space of 21 balls, Starc taking three of them, including bowling Adam Milne and Southee to get New Zealand nine down.
Williamson had watched the carnage unfold at the other end but after last man Boult had survived Starc’s final two balls of the over, the number-three batsman hammered Cummins back over his head for six with the next ball to give his side victory by the narrowest of margins.