T20 WORLD CUP 2022 Conway-led New Zealand break Down Under jinx against Australia
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New Zealand registered their first white-ball win against Australia on Australian soil in 13 years © AFP
Never count them out in a world cup, they say. 'Dark horses' was a label they got to carry for the umpteenth time, much to their dislike. And once again, New Zealand provided ample justification for that with a thumping 89-run win over defending champions, hosts and possibly one of the tournament favourites, Australia, to kickstart their 2022 T20 world cup campaign at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. It was the first time since February 2009 that New Zealand had beaten Australia in a limited-overs game.
In a nutshell
Led by Devon Conway's unbeaten 92, and backed up by blazing cameos from Finn Allen and James Neesham, New Zealand posted a mammoth 200 for 3. In response, Australia were never in the chase. Pegged back by early wickets, they struggled to find momentum and pace in the innings. Tim Southee and Mitchell Santner picked three wickets each as the hosts folded up in 17.1 overs, for 111.
Did they dominate from the start?
Yes, right from the second ball when Finn Allen tonked a full delivery by Mitchell Starc over the infield, very Brendon McCullum-esque. It didn't end there. He continued to smack the left-armer - with the first over fetching three boundaries. No bowlers was spared in the process, with Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Marcus Stoinis being meted out similar treatment as New Zealand powered away to 56 for no loss in four overs, with Allen stroking 42 of those in 15 balls.
What happened once Allen fell?
For a brief while, Australia clawed their way back into the contest, not with wickets but by bringing the scoring rate down. Kane Williamson did hit a majestic four through the off side square and six over fine leg, but largely struggled to keep the pressure on the Australian bowlers. He tottered away to a run-a-ball 23 before being trapped leg-before by Adam Zampa. However, through the course of his stay, New Zealand's scoring rate had dropped from 14 to just over 9.5 an over.
A good reason that New Zealand were still in command despite Williamson's struggles was that Conway was motoring along smoothly.
Almost disappointingly, his progression was overshadowed by other better or worse performing partners. Allen stole the limelight at the start, James Neesham hooked most of the strike in the death and Williamson's painfully slow innings almost took the sheen away from what was a well compiled innings. He was measured in his approach, took the attack to Adam Zampa and without taking as many risks as his partners, struck seven boundaries and two sixes. A couple of his lap shots didn't go the way he intended to play, but he enjoyed a fair share of luck as well.
Did any Australian bowler trouble the New Zealand batters?
Not really, except Kane Williamson. That Mitchell Starc finished with the most economical figures (4-0-36-0) speaks for the carnage that Australia suffered. Hazlewood, despite being impressive in parts, ended up conceding 41 as he was taken down by Neesham in the last over
How good were Australia in the chase?
Southee struck off the first ball, dismissing David Wraner who inside edged a ball on to his stumps. His opening partner, Aaron Finch's poor run continued as he offered Kane WIlliamosn an easy catch at extra cover while looking to hit Santner over the infield.
There were brief moments of attack by the Australians, who didn't have much option but to go on the offensive. However, it backfired. By the end of the powerplay, even the in-form Mitchell Marsh was back in the dug out, heaving Southee to the deep mid wicket fielder.
Glenn Maxwell struggled his way to a 20-ball 28, before one of his many attempted switch hits knocked over his stumps. However, during his stay in the middle, it was a procession of the Australian middle order - Marcus Stoinis, Tim David and Matthew Wade falling cheaply.
Pat Cummins hit a few lusty blows but that proved too little and late for the hosts. Trent Boult cleaned up the last two batters and powered New Zealand to a comfortable win.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 200/3 in 20 overs (Devon Conway 92*, Finn Allen 42; Josh Hazlewood 2-41) beat Australia 111 in 17.1 overs (Glenn Maxwell 28, pat Cummins 21; Tim Southee 3-6, Mitchell Santner 3-31) by 89 runs