Australia on a roll

Mitchell Johnson is congratulated on taking the wicket of James Franklin of New Zealand. The Aussie picked up four wickets in the match.-AP

Australian pacemen paved the way for a comfortable victory against New Zealand in Nagpur.

Reigning champion Australia overpowered New Zealand by seven wickets in a dominant display at the VCA Ground in Nagpur.

Australia's fast bowlers, with Mitchell Johnson taking four wickets, led the way as New Zealand was bowled out for just 206 with nearly five overs of its innings left.

Left-armer Johnson finished with four for 33 and Shaun Tait three for 35.

That New Zealand even had the remotest chance was down to a battling fifty from Nathan McCullum and skipper Daniel Vettori's 44 with the duo combining well for an eighth-wicket stand of 54.

The Black Caps had earlier been in dire straits after its top order collapsed to 73 for six.

Australia finished on 207 for three with 16 overs to spare with Michael Clarke (24) and Cameron White (22) remaining unbeaten.

Australia openers Shane Watson and Brad Haddin were rarely troubled during a century first-wicket stand.

However, Watson, on 10, did successfully challenge an lbw appeal from seamer Tim Southee, originally upheld by Sri Lankan umpire Kumar Dharmasena, after replays showed the ball would have missed leg-stump.

Haddin, a fluent strokemaker, brought up his fifty in 39 balls with eight fours while Watson went to the landmark in 52 balls including a six off a Nathan McCullum off-break.

Shane Watson's knock was quite entertaining.-PTI

New Zealand's day appeared to be summed up when substitute Kane Williamson, at deep mid-wicket, dropped Watson on 59 off left-arm spinner Vettori.

But the Black Caps gave themselves a glimmer of hope when 133 without loss became 136 for two as fast bowler Hamish Bennett removed both openers in the space of three balls in the 19th over.

Haddin (55) hooked a looping bouncer to James Franklin and then Watson (62) inside-edged an intended square-cut onto his stumps.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting meanwhile could only manage 12 before he was brilliantly stumped down the legside by Brendon McCullum off Southee.

In a match played out against the backdrop of the Christchurch earthquake, Ponting won the toss and chose to field in overcast conditions.

Tait, following the economical Brett Lee, was erratic but removed dangerman Brendon McCullum for 16 when an attempted carve over the covers flew straight to Jason Krejza at third man.

Jesse Ryder hit six forceful fours but Johnson took two wickets in four balls in the 14th over to have the left-hander and Franklin edging to wicketkeeper Haddin as they both pushed limply at good length deliveries.

Tait then had Scott Styris caught behind for a duck and yorked Ross Taylor, who struggled to make seven off 22 balls.

One concern for Australia coming out of this match though would have been the way Nathan McCullum milked rival spinners Krejza and Steven Smith — whose combined 18 overs yielded just one wicket for 91 runs.

Nathan McCullum top-scored for the Kiwis, completing a 72-ball fifty including three boundaries before he was leg before to Johnson for 52.

THE SCORES

New Zealand 206 in 45.1 overs (Nathan McCullum 52, Daniel Vettori 44, Mitchell Johnson four for 33, Shaun Tait three for 35) lost to Australia 207 for three in 34 overs (Shane Watson 62, Brad Haddin 55).