Adelaide: Brendon McCullum fell four runs short of his maiden one-day century as New Zealand totalled 254 for seven off 50 overs in the inaugural tie of the Chappell Hadlee three-match ODI series against Australia on Friday.
The belligerent wicketkeeper-batsman, opening the innings, crashed 12 boundaries and a six off 103 balls before he holed out to Nathan Bracken in the deep off wrist-spinner Brad Hogg for 96 with a first ODI century beckoning.
The Black Caps, who won the last Chappell Hadlee series 3-0 at home last February, started well but tailed off late in the innings to set the Australians just over five runs an over for victory at the Adelaide Oval.
The Australians restricted them to 59 runs from the final 10 overs.
No.5 batsman Ross Taylor (50) also made his presence felt off 52 balls with three sixes before he found a leading edge off Brett Lee and was well caught by Tait at deep mid-off.
Clean hitter Jacob Oram (32 not out) rounded off proceedings with his customary power off 38 balls clubbing three boundaries.
Tait (3-59) was the best of the Australian bowlers, while Lee (2-48) and allrounder James Hopes (1-40) bowled steadily.
McCullum's knock was the highlight of New Zealand's innings, cracking boundaries to all parts in an innings reminiscent of his efforts against the Australians at home in February.
He took a particularly heavy toll on Tait, exploiting the young paceman's broad variation in line and length.
Lee also suffered punishment from McCullum, one extraordinary back foot swish at a full pitched ball sailing well over the point boundary.
Chastened by a first spell that cost 28 in three overs, Tait proved a greater threat in his second, claiming the outside edges of How (20 from 59 balls) and then Scott Styris (five) with deliveries that left them.
New Zealand 254/7 ( McCullum 96, Taylor 50, Oram 32*, Jamie How 20; Tait 3 for 59, Lee 2 for 48, Hopes 1 for 40) Vs Australia