NZ vs AUS | 1st T20I: All RCB players disappoint
22 Feb 2021
Dominating swing bowling from the new ball bowlers in Tim Southee and Trent Boult helped New Zealand to register a comprehensive win over Australia before Devon Conway had put on a display of his shot-making abilities to resurrect the home team out of early troubles. Conway was adjudged the Player of the Match for his magnificent 99 not out where he showed his full range of shots and tempo while batting.
The tourists were chasing a target of 185 runs the Australian top-order batsmen could never get going against the impressive duo of Tim Southee and Trent Boult who swung balls from both ends. Aaron Finch had said before the start of the series about the work being done to improve his footwork, but none of it was on display during his short stay at the crease and he was guilty of playing rooted to the crease against Southee’s outswinger and the star of the night--Conway found ball safely in his hands at the short point position.
The next man in was Josh Phillipe who has earned a place in the T20 squad on the back of a stellar run in the recently-concluded Big Bash League but proved to be a damp squib on his debut and handed Boult his first wicket of the night.
Another opener Matthew Wade would have hoped for a change in fortunes with the change in format after an average series against India in the red-ball format, but the swing balls from both Boult and Southee did not provide him with any sense of easier life in New Zealand. He was squared up on numerous occasions and was finally dismissed inside the 4th over to keep New Zealand at the top.
There was no end in sight for Australian batsman and Glenn Maxwell’s antics of playing in an unorthodox manner was not to be effective against the swing of Southee and the edge was taken at the second slip to make the setting completely like a proper Test match at the Hagley Oval.
There was no respite for the Aussies as the spin twins of Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner did not allow them to get away with easy runs.
All hopes were lying on Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh’s shoulders to steer the tourists of trouble, but the pressure of run-rate made Stoinis desperate for boundaries on every ball and eventually saw the all-rounder getting out on an along hop he would be disappointed missing out on.
Marsh looked in great touch and reaped the advantage of Kyle Jamieson who thought of challenging him on short balls using his height, but the all-rounder from Western Australia was on top of his game and thumped him towards the leg side whenever he got the opportunity. However, the tall pacer had the last laugh and dismissed Marsh with the help of a tremendous catch by Santner in the point region, and with his departure, the end was nigh for the tourists.
The lower-order comprising Ashton Agar and Daniel Sams capitulated against Sodhi and New Zealand took a 1-0 lead in the five-match long T20 series. But their path to winning was not as seamless as it appeared at the end of the game.
Earlier, Australia won the toss and Finch asked his bowlers to extract whatever they could off the pitch and on cue, Daniel Sams and Jhye Richardson got their lines and lengths right to peg the hosts back by the second over. When Kane Williamson was caught under-edging a pull shot off Sams in the fourth over, the tourists were all over the hosts and a fighting score looked a distant dream for them.
From there on though, the story changed completely for the hosts as Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips started taking the game to the Australian bowling attack. The duo stitched together a partnership of 74 runs to bring the Blackcaps back on track.
Phillips failed to covert his explosive start into a substantial innings, but Conway carried on his merry way and upped his tempo towards the end of the innings. Along with James Neesham, Conway put the Australian bowlers on the sword and plundered 76 runs in the last five overs out of which he contributed 45 runs from only 20 balls.
The action will not shift to Dunedin where the second T20 of the series is scheduled to be played and both sides will have some questions about the top order but the tourists will have a lot to ponder about the lack of form of skipper Finch and vice-captain Matthew Wade, while the hosts will be hopeful of putting a similar performance in the next match.