Australia have lost their place at the top of the world one-day international rankings after New Zealand batted superbly to register a thrilling five-wicket victory over their rivals in Auckland yesterday.
The home side successfully chased down Australia's record Eden Park total of 336 for four with eight balls to spare to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in their Chappell-Hadlee series and condemn the Australians to a fourth consecutive defeat.
South Africa, who beat Pakistan 3-1 in a recent home series, have become the first team to replace Australia at the top of the rankings since they were introduced in October 2002.
"We're not panicking," stand-in captain Mike Hussey said.
"We're still confident, we're still positive, we're still believing in ourselves. I thought we batted very well but we knew the pitch was good, we knew it's a hard ground to defend on and though we had a lot of runs, we knew we were going to need every one," he said.
The Australians looked to have rebounded from their humiliating 10-wicket loss in Wellington on Friday after posting a massive total with Hussey blasting 105 and Brad Hodge 97 not out.
However, New Zealand reached their victory target in the 49th over after Ross Taylor made 117 and Peter Fulton 76 not out.
Taylor hit 16 fours and one six to lay the platform for his team's stunning win after Stephen Fleming (six), Lou Vincent (26) and Scott Styris (17) all went cheaply.
Taylor shared a 115-run partnership with Fulton for the fourth wicket but left was dismissed in the 39th over with 109 still needed.
Craig McMillan increased the run-rate with a blazing 52 off just 30 balls before Fulton and Brendon McCullum finished it off, with the pair slamming 11 runs off the penultimate over from Glenn McGrath to seal the win.
The Australians, missing five of their frontline players including skipper Ricky Ponting and deputy Adam Gilchrist, looked to have done enough to win the match after setting a record total for a one-day international at the compact venue.
Hussey smashed eight fours and six sixes, while Hodge slammed 10 boundaries and two sixes to narrowly miss out on his first hundred just two weeks after he was left stranded on 99 against the Kiwis in Melbourne.
The left-handed Hussey reached his half-century off 52 balls but needed just 29 more deliveries to bring up his second one-day hundred, smashing three sixes in one over off Vincent on the way.
Hodge reached his 50 off 49 deliveries and had a chance to bring up his hundred off the penultimate ball but could only manage a single when he needed a boundary.
Wicket-keeper Brad Haddin chipped in with a valuable 49 early in the innings while all-rounder Cameron White made 42 not out from 19 balls, but the total still proved too little.
The final match of the series will be played at Hamilton tomorrow.
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