New Zealand made a perfect start to the 5-match T20 series against Australia, beating the visitors by 53 runs. Devon Conway’s 99* powered New Zealand to 184/5, as they bounced back strongly after being 19/3 at one stage.
The Australians lost the plot in the second half of the first innings and carried that poor form into the second innings as well. None of the batsmen bar Mitchell Marsh looked comfortable against New Zealand. While the top order got done by the swing on offer, the middle order succumbed to Ish Sodhi’s leg-spin.
Brief scores: New Zealand 184/5 (Devon Conway 99*, Glenn Phillips 30; Jhye Richardson 2/31, Daniel Sams 2/40) beat Australia 131 all-out (Mitchell Marsh 45, Ashton Agar 23; Ish Sodhi 4/28, Tim Southee by 2/10) by 53 runs
If New Zealand started their innings poorly, Australia were worse when they came out to bat. Set a target of 185, the visitors were beaten all ends up by the swing on offer for the Kiwis.
A change of jersey didn’t help skipper Aaron Finch, with the under-pressure batsman walking back in the first over. Finch cut hard but found the point fielder, with Conway holding onto the catch.
Debutant Josh Philippe was the next to perish, as Trent Boult sent the debutant back to the pavilion after the Aussie batsman got a leading edge while trying to flick the ball. 8/2 quickly became 19/4 as Wade and Maxwell became the next ones to get dismissed by the impressive New Zealand pacers.
Australia kept losing wickets at regular intervals, and no one apart from Mitchell Marsh got past 25. The all-rounder scored 45 but kept losing partners on the other end.
Marcus Stoinis hit one back to Ish Sodhi while attempting to pull, and that was the start of things to come for the Kiwi bowler. Kyle Jamieson came back strongly after conceding 12 runs off his first over to dismiss the dangerous Marsh fortuitously, with Mitchell Santner taking an impressive catch at backward point.
Ish Sodhi then bowled a double-wicket over to scalp all-rounders Daniel Sams and Ashton Agar, with the leggie later dismissing Kane Richardson too. Although he had luck on his side, Sodhi made the most of his chance and finished the game with four wickets.
With the match all but over, Khye Richardson and Adam Zampa hung around for a while. But Jhye Richardson danced down the track for one ball too many, with Santner’s smart ball leaving Seifert with a routine stumping behind the stumps to end Australia’s misery.
Devon Conway's 99* the highlight of New Zealand's innings
New Zealand started their innings in the worst possible manner. Put in to bat after losing the toss, the hosts lost Martin Guptill on just the third ball of the day. The opener’s struggles in T20s continued, as he edged one to backward point and departed without troubling the scorers.
After Daniel Sams’ first over breakthrough, it was Jhye Richardson’s turn to celebrate his bumper IPL contract with a wicket. The Australian’s searing yorker leaving Tim Seifert with no chance, hitting the base of the off stump.
Sams’ second wicket of the day was that of skipper Kane Williamson, which left New Zealand reeling at 19/3 after four overs. Despite being under the pump, Kiwi duo Glenn Phillips and Devon Conway started the rebuilding job.
Conway looked in great touch from the first ball he faced, flicking Jhye Richardson for a six in the very next over. He scored at a good click throughout his innings, using the sweep to good effect against the spinners.
Glenn Phillips was solid during the other end as well but perished against the run of play as the 74-run stand came to an end. Devon Conway came into the game in great form and brought up his 3rd fifty in 5 innings soon after the wicket fell.
Thanks to some big blows from Jimmy Neesham, the Kiwis continued to find the boundary regularly. The hosts scored more than 10 runs in every over post the 13th, finishing the innings with a flourish.
Devon Conway missed out on a deserved century for New Zealand, with the batsman only able to get a single off the last ball as he remained not out on 99.
New Zealand will be buoyed by the manner in which they came back after a tough start. With their middle order firing, Kane Williamson will be confident about his side’s chances in the next game on February 25.
As for Australia, they have multiple problems to solve before their next clash with New Zealand. From Aaron Finch’s poor run to their inability to pick wickets in the middle overs, it will be interesting to see how the Aussies bounce back from the heavy defeat.