New Zealand produced yet another sublime bowling performance to pull off a second successive giant-slaying act, beating ODI world champions Australia by 8 runs in a dramatic ICC T20 World cup 2016.
New Zealand bowled with a lot of heart to stop Australia at 134 for nine after making 142 for eight at the scenic HPCA Stadium. The highlight of the Kiwi innings was a 27-ball 39 by opener Martin Guptill.
The Black Caps, who outplayed India in their first match, then produced another clinical bowling performance to inch towards semifinals.
Australia, playing their first game of the tournament, were found wanting at crucial junctures of the game with none of their big guns in batting delivering the goods today.
They looked comfortable in the chase till the time an in form Usman Khawaja (38) and Shane Watson (13) were at the crease. The duo took the team to 42 for no loss in five overs.
However, there was a twist in the tale in store with Australia losing four quick wickets to be under pressure at 66 for four.
Left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner, who had foxed the highly rated Indian batting line up in Nagpur, brought his team back into the contest by having the dangerous David Warner caught at deep midwicket (6) and Steven Smith (6) stumped.
Australia bat deep and the onus was on Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc to see off the chase. They added 36 runs for the fifth wicket before Maxwell mistimed one to be holed at deep extra cover.
It was anyone’s game from here on with Australia needing 43 off the last 29 balls, a gettable target even though half their side had been sent back to the dugout.
The game tilted in Australia’s favour when Marsh and Ashton Agar hit a six each off Santner to release the pressure.
But just then, Mitchell McLenaghan brought New Zealand back by dismissing both Marsh and Agar in the penultimate over, leaving Australia to get 19 from the final over, which proved too much for them in the end.
Earlier, Martin Guptill (39 off 27) gave New Zealand a racy start. He hammered pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile for successive fours before smashing left-arm spinner Ashton Agar for three sixes in third over of the innings.
The crowd was treated to some crisp hitting from the opener as New Zealand reached 71 for no loss in the first six overs.
Guptill’s departure in the eighth over derailed the innings with wickets falling at regular intervals.
Grant Elliott, batting at number six, came up with a valuable 27 off 20 balls to add crucial runs to the total.
Captain Kane Williamson and Colin Munro had made 24 and 23 at the top of the order.