New Zealand have taken a 2-0 lead in the 5-match T20I series against Australia after registering a 4-run win in a high-scoring thriller at University Oval, Dunedin. After being asked to bat first, the hosts put up a mammoth total of 219 on board. Chasing a huge target, the Aussies put up a valiant fight but just fell short. Martin Guptill was awarded the player of the match for his match-winning innings.
Guptill back in form; Neesham plays a fiery cameo
New Zealand opener Martin Guptill, who has been struggling with form off-late, played one of the best T20I innings ever on Thursday. After losing his partner Tim Seifert early in the innings, Guptill (97 off 50) joined hands with skipper Kane Williamson (53 off 35) and stitched a brilliant 131-run partnership for the second wicket.
Unfortunately, the 34-year-old was dismissed by Daniel Sams (1/46) and fell just three runs short of what could have been a fantastic century. James Neesham (45* off 16) played an explosive cameo in the end to take New Zealand to 219/7. It was a day to forget for the Australian bowlers as all of them leaked runs in plenty. Kane Richardson (3/43) was the leading wicket-taker as the Kiwis took the bowlers to the cleaners.
Santner shines; Stoinis and Sams fightback in vain
Chasing a target of 220, Australia got off to a flying start in the powerplay. Although skipper Aaron Finch (12 off 14) was dismissed early, Matthew Wade (24 off 15) and Josh Philippe (45 off 32) kept the runs flowing. But things went terribly wrong for the visitors in the 13th over. Mitchell Santner (4/31) dismissed Philippe, Agar and Marsh in the same over and completely turned the game around.
However, Daniel Sams (41 off 15) and Marcus Stoinis (78 off 37) had other plans. The duo went after the bowlers, scoring 92 runs in the next 37 deliveries. Needing 15 runs off the final over, the Aussies came tantalizingly close to the target. They fell only five runs short as James Neesham (2/10) guided the Kiwis to a 2-0 lead in the 5-match series.
The third match of the series will be played on March 3 at Sky Stadium, Wellington.