Late fireworks from Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams weren’t enough for Australia to chase a massive win.
Late fireworks from Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams weren’t enough for Australia to complete the fifth-biggest chase in the history of T20 internationals, New Zealand winning by four runs.
Despite setting an imposing target of 219, the match wasn’t safe for the hosts until Stoinis holed out in the deep on the second-last ball of the final over after a superb 78 (37).
When Sams arrived at the crease to join Stoinis at 6-113, the result looked a foregone conclusion. But the duo combined for a partnership of 92, the most ever in this format for the seventh wicket.
In the final over, Australia needed 15 to win as Kane Williamson threw the ball to Jimmy Neesham for the first time in the match.
It was a perfect start for him as Sams got under a full toss and was caught just in front of the rope by Glenn Phillips, the Sydney Thunder all-rounder departing for a blistering 41 off 15.
After two dot balls and a six, Stoinis was dismissed in similar fashion with Australia needing nine from the final delivery, a meaningless four on the last ball cutting the margin in half.
“What a wonderful afternoon of cricket,” Brett Lee said on Fox Cricket’s post-match coverage.
Mark Waugh agreed, saying “I’ve never seen so many sixes and fours hit in one game, just power hitting. Stoinis and Sams – that partnership. Australia were dead and buried.”
Waugh said it was the 18th over from Trent Boult which won the game for the hosts.
“Trent bowled a beautiful over, which halted a bit of our momentum.” Australian captain Aaron Finch said.
An incredible 97 (50) from Martin Guptill put the hosts on the front foot, and saw him named man of the match.
“It’s nice to score a few runs, but more importantly get another win,” he said post-match.
Skipper Kane Williamson (53 off 35) and Jimmy Neesham (45 off 16) provided valuable contributions.
The start of Neesham’s innings was particularly unique, becoming just the second man after Virender Sehwag in 2009 to hit the first three balls of a T20 innings for six.
“We got back into a great position,” Finch said.
“I thought that we didn’t bowl too badly today, but [Guptill] played a brilliant innings.
“For them to go into the back-end of the innings one down gave the license for Jimmy Neesham and those guys to play with unbelievable freedom.”
New Zealand now lead the five-match series 2-0.
Williamson praised the “incredible” work of the Aussie chasers, but said his side deserved the win.
“It was a great game of cricket, fantastic atmosphere … It was great to get the result.”
The Australian innings started brightly, before a stunning Mitchell Santner over yielded three wickets in four balls.
He got Sixers young gun Josh Philippe for a well-taken 47 (32), then after a single had Ashton Agar hole out in the deep for a golden duck and Mitch Marsh nicking one to keeper Tim Seifert on the following ball, and his last of the day.
He finished with 4-41 from four overs – but sadly, was left on a hat-trick with no chance to complete it.
Australia must win each remaining match to take the series.
“They’re 2-0 down but it’s not all doom and gloom; they can fight back,” Waugh said.
“I thought Australia played well today. I thought their bowling was better … They did well to keep New Zealand to 219 because at one stage it looked like 240 on the board.”
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