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Adam Voges did his best to cover for the controversial absence of dynamic opener David Warner as Australia made 243 for eight against New Zealand in their Champions Trophy Group A match at Edgbaston.
Voges top-scored with 71 while stand-in skipper George Bailey made 55 for the second time in as many matches as defending champions Australia looked to bounce back from their opening 48-run loss to England on Saturday, also at Edgbaston.
New Zealand, losing finalists against Australia at the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa, were indebted to left-arm quick Mitchell McClenaghan's return of four for 65, including a spell of three wickets for 16 runs that rocked the middle order.
Australia, already without captain and star batsman Michael Clarke because of a recurrence of his longstanding back problem, suffered a fresh blow before play started when Warner was dropped as a disciplinary measure.
Warner was left out following allegations he'd physically assaulted England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Bailey opted to bat first after winning the toss against a New Zealand side who scraped a one-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
There was a moment of unintentional humour before play started when, during a montage of messages from team captains to fans broadcast on the giant screens at Edgbaston, Clarke urged spectators to "drink within their boundaries".
But there was nothing funny for Australia about a collapse to 10 for two inside four overs.
Opener Shane Watson was caught behind off McClenaghan and Phillip Hughes was run out for nought by Martin Guptill, racing in from cover, after a mix-up with new opener Matthew Wade.
But coming in at 10 for two, Bailey -- who said Tuesday now was not the time for Australia "panic stations" -- calmly repaired the early damage, twice driving seamer Tim Southee down the ground as he struck four fours in nine balls.
Left-hander Wade and Bailey shared a stand worth 64 but that ended when wicket-keeper Wade was lbw to off-spinner Nathan McCullum (two for 46).
McCullum struck again when he bowled Bailey around his legs to end a partnership of 77 with Voges that left Australia 151 for four off 35 overs.
Voges fell, having faced 76 balls with seven fours, when he holed out off McClenaghan.
But Glenn Maxwell, brought in for Warner, added late impetus with an unbeaten 29 off just 22 balls including two sixes and a four.