Devon Conway's unbeaten 99 (10 fours and 3 sixes) aided with a superb bowling performance led by Ish Sodhi (4/28) has helped New Zealand register a 53-run win over Australia in the first of the five T20Is at the at the Hagley Oval, Christchurch. While the Aussies did get off to a great start with the ball and had the hosts reeling at 19/3, Conway's innings blew away the Kangaroos.
Daniel Sams helped Australia to a perfect start as he got rid of Martin Guptill in the very first over with nothing on the board. Jhye Richardson then removed the other opener in Tim Seifert in the third over before Sams returned to pick up the wicket of captain Kane Williamson. However, it was then that Conway assumed responsibility of New Zealand's revival.
Partnerships paving way for hosts' revival after poor start
Conway first stitched a 74-run stand with Glenn Phillips, doing the bulk of the scoring in that partnership. The duo got those runs in 51 balls ensuring that they do not slow down too much to ensure a competitive total. Although Phillips was sent back by Marcus Stoinis in the 13th over for 30, it hardly seemed to break the concentration of his partner who added another 47 runs off 29 balls with James Neesham before the latter was outfoxed by Richardson.
Mitchell Santner then did the best thing possible- to remain with a set Conway till the end of the innings as the Kiwis ended with a challenging 184 on the board. For the brilliance with which he paced his innings and got those boundaries along with the ones and twos, it was a shame that Conway couldn't complete his century.
No weak link in the Kiwi bowling at Christchurch
In response, the Kiwis did not give away a thing to the Aussies, making them work hard for every single run. The duo of Tim Southee and Trent Boult were superb with the ball sharing the wickets of Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and Josh Philippe between them for 32 runs in 6 overs.
With spin being introduced into the attack, perhaps it would have been the best chance for a Kangaroo counterattack but Ish Sodhi had other ideas as he had extraordinary control of what he was bowling. Sodhi outshone the pacers who so often take the credit for a great Kiwi bowling performance and finished with brilliant figures of 4/28.
With wickets falling at regular intervals and the required run rate too getting out of control, it was only a matter of time before Australia conceded defeat. The visitors were eventually bowled out for 131 with Mitchell Santner and Kyle Jamieson also finding themselves amidst wickets.
New Zealand have, thus, taken a 1-0 lead in the five-match series. The Aussies would be desperate to make a comeback when the teams meet next for the second fixture on February 25 at Logan Park, Dunedin.