Australia defeat New Zealand by 64 runs in 3rd T20I, Maxwell & Agar shine

Ashton Agar's match-winning 6/30 killed off the contest (Image courtesy TOI)
Ashton Agar's match-winning 6/30 killed off the contest (Image courtesy TOI)

Australia absolutely bossed the 3rd T20I against hosts New Zealand, winning by 64 runs and keeping the 5-match series alive in the process after having lost the first two games.

Put in to bat first by Kane Williamson, Australia smashed 208/4 riding on the back of captain Aaron Finch's quickfire 69 and Glenn Maxwell's whirlwind 70 before Man of the Match Ashton Agar's 6/30 helped them dismiss the Kiwis for just 144.

Maxwell goes on a rampage after Finch and Philippe set the base

The biggest positive for Australia will be the return to form of captain Finch. The Aussie opener was recently ignored at the IPL 2021 auction after having endured a torrid time with the bat over the past few months.

Having survived an lbw appeal from Tim Southee in the very first over of the innings, Finch slowly built his innings in the company of the adventurous Josh Philippe (43 off 27 balls).

The duo kept finding the fence consistently and put on 83 runs for the second wicket before RCB batsman Philippe, who had quite a few miscues landing safely, finally perished in an attempt to hit Ish Sodhi for a maximum.

Philippe's wicket brought Glenn Maxwell to the crease. With his captain on the other end looking solid, Maxwell took a bit of time to settle down. Meanwhile, Finch brought up his fifty in some style, smashing a switch-hit six off a free hit from Sodhi.

Australia were 116/2 when the floodgates really started to open as Maxwell began his onslaught on the hapless Kiwi bowlers. The Aussie allrounder, who had only scored 9 runs off 10 balls by that time, took 20 runs off the next 10 deliveries he faced before Sodhi came back to send Finch packing (69 off 44 balls) in the 6th over.

What happened in the next over was absolute carnage. Jimmy Neesham faced the full wrath of Maxwell's flashing blade as the latter hit his former Punjab Kings teammate for 28 runs in one over (4,6,4,4,4,6). The Big Show got to his fifty in the same over, having taken just 25 balls to reach the milestone.

32-year-old Maxwell took 10 more runs off the next over before departing on the final ball of the 18th over for a breathtaking 31-ball 70, which included 8 fours and 5 sixes.

Even though the Aussies could only score 14 runs off the last two overs, Maxwell's innings had all but ensured they crossed the 200-run barrier.

Ashton Agar's 6-wicket haul wrecks New Zealand's chase

Set an imposing 209-run target, the New Zealand batsmen faltered in their attempt to keep up with the run-rate.

Even though Martin Guptill got the Kiwis off to a rapid start, debutant pacer Riley Meredith struck twice in the powerplay, dismissing Tim Seifert and talismanic captain Kane Williamson in successive overs.

The Kiwis did manage to wrest a bit of momentum back through Guptill and Devon Conway but suffered another setback when the former holed out to long-off for 43, off the bowling of Adam Zampa.

Having gone for 12 runs in his first over, Ashton Agar then completely killed off the chase by picking up 3 wickets - Conway, Glenn Phillips and Jimmy Neesham - in his second over.

With the Kiwis struggling at 116/6 after 14 overs, left-arm orthodox Agar helped himself to three more scalps, and finished his quota of overs with 6/30 - the best bowling figures for Australia in T20Is.

Kane Richardson then finished off the proceedings by picking up the last wicket to fall as the Kiwis were bundled out for 144 in 17.1 overs.

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Edited by Sankalp Srivastava
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