World T20: New Zealand trump Australia as Williamson's captaincy shines again

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©ICC Media

World T20: New Zealand trump Australia as Williamson's captaincy shines again

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Debarshee Mitra

03/18/2016

New Zealand saw off Australia in a tightly-contested game that ended in an eight-run win for the Kiwis as they strolled to their second win of the tournament. After they set a target of 143, the New Zealand spinners and McClenaghan stifled the Aussies in the final overs to restrict them to 134 runs.

Brief Scores: New Zealand 142/8 in 20/20 overs (Guptill 39(27) Elliot 27(20) Faulkner 2/18) defeated Australia 134/9 in 20/20 overs (Khawaja 38(27) Mcclenaghan 3/17, Anderson 2/29)

With 143 to chase down, Australia started on the frontfoot with Usman Khawaja ripping into the New Zealand bowling. The left hander made good use of the new ball, and Australia breezed to 30 in the opening three overs, threatening to take the game away from their Trans-Tasmanian rivals. But as the ball beagn to show wear and tear, the Aussies started to find it difficult to time their shots, and Shane Watson was the first to depart. Mitchell McClenaghan held one back and Watson drove it straight into the hands of Kane Williamson at mid-off. New Zealand found a spring in their step and tightened their grip on the Aussie chase as Williamson introduced his spin arsenal.

Mitchell Santner, man of the match against India, was back among the wickets as he dismissed Steve Smith in his very first over. The Australian captain danced down the track, but the turn left him beaten all ends up, as Luke Ronchi dislodged the stumps. The dismissal was reminiscent of Rohit Sharma’s dismissal off the same bowler in the first game.

Kane Williamson was intuitive in his captaincy and decided to have a bowl himself, stifling the innings further with a three-run over. Usman Khawaja still looked the best batsman on the day, chipping singles at ease. But with pressure building and the chasing rate climbing higher Khawaja and Warner attempted a risky two, but Milne’s throw was dead on target for Elliot to send Khawaja back. The momentum was well and truly with New Zealand now, with David Warner departing soon after.

As Australia reeled at 66 for 4 in their 11th over, Glen Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh took it upon themselves to build the innings back. But after five overs of scoring at roughly a run-a-ball, Sodhi dismissed Maxwell to put Australiain a tight spot. Marsh showed resilience hitting Santner for two sixes in an over, but the required rate continued to rocket, and Marsh departed to the increasing pressure as McClenaghan bagged his second of the day. McClenaghan also got Agar later in the over.

Needing 19 off the last over and Faulkner still at crease, all outcomes looked possible. Corey Anderson had the ball, and Faulkner sensed a chance to pull off an unlikely heist. But, he ended up scooping one straight into Guptill’s hands in a mistimed attempt to hoist one over the fence. The result was confirmed right then as the Aussies ended nine runs short of the mark.

Earlier in the day, Kane Williamson won the toss and chose to bat first. The Kiwis made just one change from their winning lineup in the opener, as Nathan McCullum made way for Mitchell McClenaghan with Kane Williamson adding more beef to his quick bowling options.

The Black Caps got off to a near-perfect start with Martin Guptill looking in great touch. The opener took on the Australian bowling, hitting sixes off Ashton Agar and Nathan Coulter-Nile as New Zealand raced to 58 without loss in the six overs of powerplay. But after a tight seventh over by Adam Zampa, Guptill departed on the first ball of the eighth as he looked to accelerate the score.

Losing their explosive opener, New Zealand started to lose their way as Williamson and Corey Anderson were both sent packing by Glenn Maxwell in the space of two overs. Colin Munro and Ross Taylor hung on trying to stabilize the innings but neither looked very settled. The ball refused to come on to the bat and the batsmen in the middle struggled as the Aussies brought in all sort of variations to the table with Steven Smith rotating his bowlers excellently.

Munro did play a reverse-cut and a reverse sweep off Maxwell but looked uncomfortable on the whole and was sent back after not middling a Mitchell Marsh delivery. Ross Taylor looked to finally accelerate the innings, hitting Shane Watson for a maximum, but his bubble burst the very next ball. Watson who had been very disciplined with the ball, just held it back a little and Taylor lofted it neatly for Marsh, who grabbed a regulation catch.

Grant Elliot attempted to rescue the downslide as he scored 11 runs off the 18th over, and New Zealand looked to finally build some much-needed momentum in search of a defendable target. Unfortunately, wickets continued to tumble at the other end, as first Luke Ronchi and then Mitchell Santner returned to the pavilion. New Zealand finished with 142 on the board, thanks largely to Guptill’s early innings blitz.

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