Australian skipper Aaron Finch rued the horror powerplay his side endured in the first T20I, losing 4 wickets, but admitted that the visitors were comprehensively outplayed by a clinical New Zealand team. Finch also expressed admiration for the knock of Conway, who finished agonizingly on 99*.
Australia got off to the worst start possible in their five-match T20I series versus New Zealand as they slumped to a thumping 53-run defeat at the Hagley Oval on Monday. Winning the toss and bowling first, the Aussies had New Zealand on the ropes at one point - the Kiwis were 19/3 after 4 overs - but a stunning 99* from rising star Devon Conway propelled the Kiwis to a daunting total of 184/5.
But more than Conway’s knock, however, Australia were crushed by a masterclass in powerplay bowling by the duo of Tim Southee and Trent Boult, who struck four times inside the first four overs of the Australian innings to reduce the visitors to 19/4, killing all hopes of a successful chase. The quadruple blow eventually ended up doing irreparable damage as the visitors were eventually bowled out for 131, losing the game by a hefty 53-run margin.
Speaking in the aftermath of the defeat, Finch credited New Zealand's exceptionally clinical performance with bat and ball, in particular Conway, but admitted that his side all but lost the game in the first 4 overs of the chase.
“Yes, we didn't play our best tonight but New Zealand played well,” Finch said in the post match presentation.
“Devon surely deserved the hundred there as they are tough to come by in T20 cricket. He played a great knock. They built a great partnership and it was based on running between wickets, changed the momentum and made use of the huge pockets in the field. We were undone in the powerplay under the lights.”
Chasing 185 was always going to be a tough ask, but there was hope that Australia could pull it off, not least because of the presence of debutant Josh Phillipe, who entered the series on the back of a monster BBL 10. However, 2 runs was all the Sydney Sixers man managed, falling to the bowling of Boult to cap off a disappointing debut. Finch rued the fact that Philippe’s international career did not get off to a winning start but insisted that the world will soon see fireworks from the blade of the 23-year-old.
“It is fantastic to have a debutant and unfortunately we couldn't get him the win tonight, it is a special occasion and we are very happy for him. He's (Philippe) a gun and plenty more to come from him,” Finch said of young Philippe.
Finch and the other Australian players underwent 14 days of quarantine prior to playing in the first T20I, but the Australian skipper asserted that the isolation period was not 'tough'. The 34-year-old further thanked the hosts for world-class hospitality.
“It feels like it has been a long time since we played. The 14 days (of quarantine) were good to be honest, they looked after us really well. We are just grateful to be here.”
The second of the 5 T20Is will be played at the University Oval in Dunedin on Thursday, February 25.