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Kiwi cricketers celebrate the fall of a wicket during ICC WT20 2016 in India. File Photo: AFP

Aus v NZ, World T20 2016: McClenaghan leads NZ to second victory

New Zealand defeated their perennial rival Australia by 8 runs in a riveting contest during the Super Ten Group 2 match of ICC WT20 2016 at Dharamsala today, agencies report.  Chasing 143, Aussies enjoyed a brisk start with Khwaja firing on all cylinders. However New Zealand bowlers struck back with vengeance and didn’t allow any partnership to take the match away from them.

For Kiwis, McClenaghan was the most successful bowler with three late wickets for 17 in three overs. Santner and Anderson took two each. New Zealand captain Williamson marshaled his troops brilliantly, and choked Aussies batters with intelligent field placing and bowling changes. For Australia, Usman Khwaja was the highest scorer with 38 runs. Marsh contributed with 24 late in the innings.

Australia lost their ninth wicket in the last over when Coulter-Nile was bowled for one by Anderson. McClenaghan threw a spanner in Australia’s works with two wickets and only three runs in the 19th over. Agar fell in the last ball of the 19th over, and McClenaghan picked up his third wicket of the match. Aussie batter smashed his shot towards square leg where Taylor took a running catch.

He first sent back Marsh for 24 runs with a slower ball. Marsh pulled his shot straight down the throat of Milne at long-on. Mitchell Marsh kept Aussie hopes intact with his knock, and scored some handy runs late in the innings.  Sodhi gave New Zealand the important breakthrough in the 16 th over. He got the better of Maxwell.

Maxwell scored 22 from 23 with two fours, but failed to score as quickly as he would have liked. Australia were rocked in the ninth over in their chase when a terrific piece of fielding resulted in the run out of the in-form batter Usman Khwaja.  Khwaja kept the Aussies ahead with his positive batting, and scored 38 from 27 with six fours to his name.

Kiwi spinner Santner sent back Aussie captain with a superb piece of bowling in the seventh over to lift his team. Santner lured Smith out of the crease with more flight, the ball gripped and spun, and left the batter helpless as the keeper w hipped off the bails.  Smith fell for six runs.

Although Australia lost Watson in the 6th over with 44 runs on the board, Khwaja kept on blasting away, and kept the Kiwi bowlers at bay.  New Zealand’s McClenaghan sent back Watson for 13 runs, and gave his side the first breakthrough after a dominating opening partnership.  Aussies enjoyed a fantastic start to their chase of 143 with Usman Khwaja in red-hot form, and entertaining the Dharamsala crowd with a flurry of boundaries.

Earlier, with a professional display on the field, Australia were able to keep New Zealand down to 142 for 8 during the Super Ten match of ICC WT20 2016 at Dharamsala. After the breezy 61-run opening partnership, Australia struck at regular intervals to stall New Zealand’s progress. Faulkner and Maxwell took two wickets each. Watson and Marsh also chipped in with a wicket.

Guptill was the highest scorer for the Kiwis with 39 runs from 27 balls. Three Kiwi batsmen were dismissed in the twenties. Faulkner removed Luke Ronchi in the 19th over for six runs. Ronchi tried to clear the field but the slower ball was mis-timed to Maxwell at deep midwicket. Australia managed to pick up wickets at regular intervals late in the innings, and removed Ross Taylor in the 17th over before the batter could do a lot of damage.

After smashing a six, Taylor picked out the fielder at mid wicket next ball from Watson. The Kiwi batsman couldn’t score than 11 runs.  Australia struck at the worst time for the Kiwis when Munro looked to up the ante, and sent back the batter to the pavilion in the 14th over. After frustrating Munro with some cleverly disguised slower balls, Marsh picked up his man as the batsman slogged straight into the hands of Faulkner at deep mid-wicket. Munro scored 23 useful runs from 26 balls.

New Zealand were rattled inside 11 overs as Maxwell managed to send back the in-form Corey Anderson for only three runs.  Anderson stepped out and lofted his shot, unfortunately for him he got the height but not the distance. Agar took the catch without any fuss. Maxwell brought his team Australia back into the match with the crucial wicket of Kane Williamson in the ninth over.

Having taken a splendid catch earlier, Maxwell starred with the ball as Williamson tried to smash a six over long off but couldn’t clear Agar. Kiwi skipper Williamson scored 24 from 20 with four fours to his name  Faulkner gave the Aussies the important breakthrough in the 8th over, when Guptill failed to the clear the boundary at long-on.

Maxwell ran around at took a smart catch, but Guptill did the damage with 39 runs from 27 balls. The Kiwi opener smashed two fours and four huge sixes during his entertaining cameo. After a watchful start, Kane Williamson began to open up his shoulders, and managed to keep the run rate hovering at nine. Kiwi opener Martin Guptill came out to bat like a man possessed and took the attack with disdain to the Aussie bowlers early.

He made full use of the freebies dished up by the Australian spinners, and helped himself to some towering sixes at Dharamsala.  Kiwis opted to bat first, after their skipper Kane Williamson called it correctly when the coin was tossed in the Super Ten Group 2 match of ICC WT20 2016 against Australia at the picturesque ground of Dharamsala.

New Zealand will be high on confidence having beaten India in Nagpur. They have the rather unflattering reputation of being dark horses in tournaments such as these but after that victory, that reputation would be tilting towards contenders.

Quite what to expect from Australia remains a mystery…punished at home by India in three T20s, they moved on to South Africa and found some form, but then were outdone by West Indies in a warm-up in Kolkata. They too have three spinners available, including the allrounder Glenn Maxwell, but neither Ashton Agar nor Adam Zampa had played a T20 international three weeks ago.

New Zealand’s team combination and the gutsy move to drop Tim Southee and Trent Boult for a match against India hit the headlines, particularly after it paid off. A lot of attention will be focused on what Mike Hesson and Kane Williamson come up with in Dharamsala.

Steve Smith second-guessed that they will go in with three spinners again but Ross Taylor pointed out that the boundaries in Dharamsala are a lot shorter than in Nagpur. Add that the ball travels faster and further in this altitude, we may well see one of the three spin heroes sitting out.

There aren’t any major injury concerns for Australia. Their main focus will be to get the team balance right. Steve Smith reckons that the Dharamsala pitch will be a turner. So expect more spinners to be deployed.

Australia

UT Khawaja, SR Watson, SPD Smith (Captain), DA Warner, GJ Maxwell, MR Marsh, JP Faulkner, PM Nevill (Wicketkeeper), AC Agar, A Zampa and NM Coulter-Nile

New Zealand

MJ Guptill, KS Williamson (Captain), C Munro, CJ Anderson, LRPL Taylor, GD Elliott, MJ Santner, L Ronchi (Wicketkeeper), AF Milne, MJ McClenaghan and IS Sodhi

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