Australia on top as New Zealand limp to 150 for nine
Auckland, Feb 21 (PTI) New Zealand struggled to 150 for nine in the T20 tri-series final against Australia at Auckland's Eden Park here today.
Australia's bowlers took revenge after being thrashed for 243 by the Black Caps at the same ground last Friday, led by spinner Ashton Agar's career-best T20 figures for three for 27. Ross Taylor's 43 off 38 balls was the highlight of a poor batting display that included just five sixes, despite the venue's notoriously short boundaries. New Zealand batted first after winning the toss and openers Martin Guptill and Colin Munro, who combined for a 132-run partnership in the previous match, made their intentions clear with an early flurry of boundaries. They raced to 48 without loss but Australian captain David Warner held his nerve and backed his attack, constantly switching bowlers so the batters could not settle. Lanky paceman Billy Stanlake made the breakthrough in the fourth over when Guptill departed for 21 after sending his shot straight to Warner. Munro followed for 29 in the next over leaving the New Zealanders at 59 for two. An Agar double strike in the seventh over then sent the Black Caps' innings spinning out of control, as skipper Kane Williamson and Mark Chapman both failed to reach double figures. Agar was not done, tempting a rash shot from Colin de Grandhomme to send the big-hitting dangerman back to the pavilion for 10. Taylor and Ish Sodhi combined for a 38-run partnership but it was too late to revive the innings. The only negative for Australia was when Chris Lynn left the field after apparently injuring his troublesome shoulder diving for the ball. Australia are heavy favourites after comfortably winning all four of their matches in the series, including a world record run chase of 245 against New Zealand last Friday. Victory in the final would see them become the world's top-ranked T20 team. In contrast, New Zealand have won only one match on the way to the decider, qualifying because they finished the round-robin matches with a better run rate than England