- Australia 3 for 96 (Lynn 44, Maxwell 40*) beat New Zealand 9 for 117 (Tye 4-23, Stanlake 3-15) by seven wickets (DLS)
SYDNEY: Australia launched the inaugural T20 Tri-series with an emphatic curtain-raising victory over New Zealand at Sydney, hunting down a rain-reduced target of 95 in 11.3 overs, after their bowlers had proven too aggressive and constraining for their meek opposition.
Despite a top-order wobble, in which David Warner and the debutant D’Arcy Short fell inside the first three overs, the belligerent power of Chris Lynn and Glenn Maxwell soon assumed utter control of Australia’s chase.
With a series of scything blows, particularly through the covers, Lynn set the initial tempo, en route to 44 from 33 balls, while Maxwell soon found his own range with a ramped four over the keeper’s head followed by a planted front-foot six off the medium pace of Colin de Grandhomme.
Lynn picked up his solitary six of the night when he belted Mitchell Santner on the up through midwicket, but he eventually fell in pursuit of his second when, with eight runs required for victory, he scuffed a pull to backward square leg off a Trent Boult bouncer.
It barely delayed the inevitable, however. Maxwell flipped another four off his hip in Tim Southee’s subsequent over, then launched the winning boundary high over the bowler’s head two balls later, to finish unbeaten on 40 from 24 balls.
Australia’s victory, however, was set up by the beanpole seamer, Billy Stanlake, whose cloud-snagging height, fierce pace and pinpoint accuracy justified Warner’s decision to bowl first, as he wrecked New Zealand’s top order with three wickets in the space of his first eight balls.
Two of those came from his first two deliveries. Steaming in for the second over of the innings, he startled Colin Munro with his trampoline bounce from just back of a good length, for Alex Carey – making his T20 debut behind the stumps – to sprint out to point to complete a steepling catch.
Then, having crossed while the ball was in the air, Martin Guptill was flummoxed by a beauty, a perfect-length seamer that burst past a tentative push to flick the top of off stump. Stanlake missed his hat-trick by a whisker, as Tom Bruce clipped an attempted yorker through the leg side for three, but Bruce didn’t elude his grasp for long. In his next over, Stanlake zeroed in on his lid with a superb bouncer, and a flapped pull spiralled into the hands of Kane Richardson at fine leg.
At 3 for 16, New Zealand were shell-shocked, and their response to adversity was to go even further into that shell. Their second and final boundary of the Powerplay was a slashed cut from Ross Taylor that would have been gobbled by a second slip, and Australia soon had their fourth when tentative rearguard from Kane Williamson was sawn off by that habitual partnership-breaker Andrew Tye. The second ball of his spell was back of a length, and looped off a leading edge to David Warner in the covers.
Australia scarcely broke sweat in consolidating their dominance thereafter. The spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa joined Tye in choking the middle overs, and Tom Blundell was the next to snap, galloping down the wicket to a Zampa legbreak and holing out to long-off as he was deceived in flight.
At least de Grandhomme refused to go quietly. He greeted Stanlake’s return with a tremendous pick-up for four over midwicket, then gave Zampa the full treatment, pounding him for two sixes in three balls, including a huge mow into the pavilion at midwicket. Taylor, however, was far less fluent or decisive in his outlook, and his departure for 24 from 35 balls was another indication of New Zealand’s muddled plans. A charge at Agar, a slash off a thin edge, and a nick to Carey who completed the stumping just to be sure.
With New Zealand going nowhere at 6 for 92, Tye returned for the death and mopped up their resistance. With his knuckle-ball a permanent and illegible threat, Santner mowed to deep midwicket, before Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi holed in in the final over of the innings – Southee at least connected for one massive six over midwicket off Richardson to show some late resistance. De Grandhomme was left high and dry on 38 not out from 24, a lone battler in a flaccid team performance.
A steady downfall during the interval caused an hour’s delay and a slight recalculation of Australia’s initial target of 118, but it made little difference to the destiny of the game.
Warner and Short each spanked an early boundary off Southee before then falling in the space of three balls – Short to a full-blooded pull to short midwicket and Warner to a dinky juggled catch from Bruce on the midwicket rope. But Lynn and Maxwell scarcely blinked thereafter.