A decent target set by New Zealand, better than 9 runs per over required. They were in all sorts early at 19 for 3, with the senior men Williamson and Guptill gone as well as a form player Seifert. But the newer arrivals steadied things up with the 74 runs added between Conway and Phillips, then another 47 with Conway and Neesham, before Santner joined Conway as quiet support to see them to the close.
Ah well. He played so well, and it was a sudden surge at the end that took him near a century, so it’s not as though Conway had a century in the bag and then let it slip. What he has done is played tremendously well and helped his team out of a hole.
20th over: New Zealand 184-5 (Conway 99, Santner 7) Conway loses strike immediately though, smearing Kane Richardson to deep square leg and not being game to push the throw for the second run. Santner tries to tug a short ball away for a run, but gets it too well and hits the midwicket gap for four! Not a bad result for NZ. Third ball of the over, a swing and a miss, and Conway has backed up so far that he’s almost at the striker’s end before the ball has reached Matthew Wade’s hands. I say hands because Wade already had a glove off, anticipating this move and ready to throw, but Conway was too quick.
Three balls to come, 88 runs to his name.
Half volley on the pads. Hit for six! A huge swing over the leg side from Conway, he couldn’t have asked for a friendlier delivery. He’s on 94.
Low full toss. Swung for four! Through midwicket along the ground! Stays still and waits for it, the ball straight, the field up in that part of the ground. He’s on 98.
Wide from Richardson, very wide of off stump, a full toss again and it might have been an extra had Conway left it. But he reaches for it, gets a good piece, and sends it into the deep. Only problem is that he hits it too well, straight to the man at deep point on the bounce, and while the batsmen are intent on the second run, they see the return coming back in. Conway decides that 99 not out looks better than 99 dismissed, and elects not to return.
19th over: New Zealand 167-5 (Conway 87, Santner 3) He was born in the 90s, but Conway is into the 80s. Sams, left-arm over to a left-hander, bowls too wide of the off stump a couple of times, then over-corrects by getting onto the pads. Conway picks it up cleanly, lifting it over deep fine leg into the crowd. Very crisp. He tries to follow it up going over cover but skews the shot, and Stoinis from long on has time to run around a long way towards deep extra cover, putting in the dive but the ball bounces ahead of his hands. Conway makes up for it the very next ball, lacing a drive along the ground through the cover gap for four! Next ball, pinches the single. He could ton up if he gets enough strike in the last over.
18th over: New Zealand 151-5 (Conway 72, Santner 3) Devon Conway has made scores in the 60s a couple of times for NZ, but now moves into the 70s for the first time. Creates a really nice crack off the bat as he nails a pull shot from Kane Richardson, and works most of the rest of the over nicely: picking up singles, jamming out a yorker for two.
17th over: New Zealand 141-5 (Conway 64, Santner 1) Another left-hander to the crease, the tall and skinny Santner, off the mark with a guide to point.
The Australians have been getting frustrated by this partnership, but find a way through. The ball beforehand, Richardson misses his attempted slower ball and sees it float down leg. You can hear the “No!” from the bowler, and he raises a hand in apology to his captain, with both fielders up behind square leg and an easy boundary conceded as Neesham glances away. But Richardson is back on target next ball, swinging away from the left-hander outside the off stump, drawing a big drive and a big edge through to the wicketkeeper. Neesham hurls his head back, and now he’s the player frustrated.
16th over: New Zealand 132-4 (Conway 61, Neesham 21) Very simple from Neesham: just reaches out and clouts a wider slower ball from Sams over his head back down the ground. Four. Conway puts a lot of muscle into a pull shot and nails that as well. Between them they take 14 from the over. Sams went for plenty late in the game when he was playing India in Canberra recently.
15th over: New Zealand 118-4 (Conway 54, Neesham 14) Stoinis a chance for a second wicket as Neesham lifts a ball out into the leg side, but Sams and Maxwell are converging and Sams perhaps hangs back a bit rather than sprinting in for the catch. In the end he reaches the ball on the bounce, parries it back into the field of play, and Maxwell isn’t expecting that, reaching for it while falling backwards and so palming it back into the rope rather than saving it. Stoinis lets loose some aural frustration. The boundary is part of 10 runs from the over.
14th over: New Zealand 108-4 (Conway 51, Neesham 7) Maxwell on for his first over, and it’s a rusty start with two left-handers to account for. A couple slide down the leg side, aside from which it’s a mixed bag of singles and twos and byes. What would have been another wide isn’t because Conway shapes to play a reverse sweep, thus eliminating the leg-side extra when he misses the shot.
13th over: New Zealand 98-4 (Conway 50, Neesham 1) Stoinis finishes out a tidy enough over, seven runs from it, as Conway brings up another fifty in this format, his third in seven matches.
A wicket second ball for Stoinis! Same sort of attempt from Phillips, trying to smash straight down the ground, but the length isn’t full enough and it goes straight up. About seven players could have caught that in the end, with Mitch Marsh running in to a short mid-off to claim it as it comes back down. The big Stoinis celebration comes out.
12th over: New Zealand 91-3 (Conway 46, Phillips 28) Kane’s turn in the battle of the Richardsons, and Devon Conway decides to cane him. Glides a boundary between backward point and short third with perfect touch, then hops up and lays into a pull shot to the fence through square leg. Once strike is changed over, Phillips tries a huge hit down the ground and skews it instead, a mile up in the air but falling safely at midwicket with everyone back on the leg side.
11th over: New Zealand 81-3 (Conway 37, Phillips 27) First ball of Zampa’s over and Glenn Phillips bombs him for six! A high dipping delivery, I think it was the wrong ‘un out the back of his hand, but it’s pitched too full, and Phillips waits and waits for it to drop outside off stump before launching it back over long on.
And the ground DJ drops SANDSTORM!
Last ball of the over, it goes for six more. Dragged down by Zampa, a real hit-me ball, and it goes miles over midwicket. Phillips is catching up.
10th over: New Zealand 67-3 (Conway 36, Phillips 14) That straight line for Agar continues to the left-hander, and Conway’s plan is to take it on with the sweep. It nearly comes undone when he gloves a ball up over the keeper but short fine leg can’t get around. But that doesn’t deter Conway, and he gets hold of the next two running to hit the rope at deep backward square.
9th over: New Zealand 55-3 (Conway 25, Phillips 13) Jhye Richardson is back, hitting a hard length outside off stump to the left-handed Conway, getting him off strike with a forced single. Phillips shuffles across to scythe a run to backward point. Likewise Conway, better timed, but Agar dives to save three runs. That brings Phillips back on strike, and he gets back in his crease and pulls a length ball for six! Up and under, it’s a 69-metre boundary and he’s cleared it. Nice.
8th over: New Zealand 46-3 (Conway 23, Phillips 6) Agar to bowl, and how’s this: left-arm orthodox, coming wide around the wicket to a left-handed batsman, looking to cut down his angles. So Conway plays a reverse sweep to backward point for four. Phillips has barely faced a ball. He’s 4 from 8 as Conway puts him on strike with a swept single, but manages to carve away two runs through backward point to add to his modest tally. Increased by 50 percent.
Message in from Michael Davidson. “Impressive of Adam Zampa to make it over to NZ for this game after finishing 8th in the Giant Slalom at the skiing world championships in Italy on Friday.”
7th over: New Zealand 38-3 (Conway 18, Phillips 3) Zampa back on, and bowling really nicely with the field back. Good bound into the bowling crease, good loop, and he’s rolling them out consistently on the line of the stumps, hitting a good length that makes the batsmen play cautiously, nudging four singles and nothing more.
6th over: New Zealand 34-3 (Conway 16, Phillips 1) Lovely shot from Conway in Kane Richardson’s first over, standing tall and punching off the back foot through point for four. Only a couple of singles otherwise from the over, and it’s a very quiet Powerplay for NZ as it comes to an end.
5th over: New Zealand 28-3 (Conway 11, Phillips 0) The Australians putting on the squeeze for the first six balls of this over, but Conway drags something back from the seventh! Richardson is too fast, nasty to deal with. Squeezes a ball through Conway’s defence and nearly back onto the stumps. Gives the batsman little to work with. But an earlier wide costs him when he has to bowl a seventh ball, and the left-handed Conway walks across to whip a leg-stump length ball over deep backward square. Sams is back there, but he’s a few metres off the rope. If he were back, he would have snared it, but in the end he can only leap despairingly as it sails over him for six.
4th over: New Zealand 19-3 (Conway 3) Fine bowling from Sams! He tightens up Williamson three balls in a row, a tight line from left-arm over. Williamson can’t force him away to the off, then Sams bangs in a sharp bouncer. A bit lucky not to be wided but it was just close enough to get the benefit of the doubt. Williamson bails out of a shot in any case. Four balls without scoring, so Williamson charges the next and pulls it just straight of midwicket, nearly caught. But wants more to finish the over and tries to pull one that isn’t short enough, hip height if that while angling across him. Instead of runs he gets a little top edge through to the keeper to end the over.
3rd over: New Zealand 15-2 (Williamson 8, Conway 3) Not full enough to Conway early, and the new batsman pushes a drive through cover for two runs, then works a single to midwicket. Williamson misses a pull and gets a leg bye. Five from the over, another good one.
What a delivery! Whoever wrote the $2.4million cheque for Jumping Jhye will be feeling good about themselves. Proper pace, fully pitched, and that ball tails in towards the right-hander from over the wicket, a yorker that beats the forward defensive push and nails off stump. Exciting.
2nd over: New Zealand 10-1 (Seifert 1, Williamson 7) A surprise as Adam Zampa comes on to bowl the second over. Not sure anyone was expecting that, Kane Richardson and Maxwell were wandering near the bowling crease, then Finch calls Zampa through. He gets away with a high full toss first ball, with Seifert just pushing it down the ground for one. A single to square leg and a couple of leg byes, and Zampa gets through the over cheaply.
1st over: New Zealand 6-1 (Seifert 0, Williamson 6) That’s the sort of poise that Williamson can bring. The early wicket falls, so the NZ skipper arrives, pulls a boundary, then drives two runs between point and backward. Suddenly the start doesn’t look quite so bad.
Gone in the first over! Guptill had a few question marks over him coming into this game, and they haven’t dissipated now. Watches two balls sail by outside the off stump from the left-arm angle of Sams, has a big drive at the third one, slices it towards backward point where the tall Agar is waiting, not having to dive.
Out come the teams. Good to see New Zealand back in the beige shirts. Carn the mighty beige.
A few lesser-known NZ players are getting a chance today as well. Jamieson’s fame has increased after also getting a big IPL bid, but he’s only played six white-ball games for his country alongside his six Tests. Extremely tall, extremely fast, and has taken piles of Test wickets already (36 so far) though fewer in the short forms.
Glenn Phillips suits up for the 18th time in this format, having made a few months ago against West Indies. Devon Conway will play match number seven. Otherwise the names are pretty familiar, with Martin Guptill recovering from a sore hammy to take his place at the top of the stack.
A few things to look for in the Australian line-up. Aaron Finch, to start with. He didn’t make a run in the IPL last year, didn’t make a run in the Big Bash, got cut by his IPL team and got passed over in the auction. This is the same man who has the two biggest scores ever made in T20 International cricket. He had a similar rut for Australia in 2018 and 2019 but came back to score a huge number of runs leading up to and during the 2019 World Cup. Australia need him to end this slump so there’s no doubt around him leading the team into the T20 World Cup later this year.
Philippe is an opener for the Sydney Sixers, so it’s a change for him batting first drop, especially if he comes in later in the innings with the field back. Stoinis is again being asked to be a hitter in the middle order despite his best T20 returns coming at the top. He currently holds the record for the most runs in a Big Bash season, made opening the batting for the Melbourne Stars. Marsh is more of a middle-order specialist.
Riley Meredith doesn’t get to play this first match alongside his fellow IPL auction winner J. Richardson, with the tricks of K. Richardson preferred to straight out pace. The other players sitting out today are D’Arcy Short, Ben McDermott, AJ Tye, Ashton Turner, Jason Behrendorff and Tanveer Sangha.
Tim Seifert +
Kane Williamson *
Aaron Finch *
Matthew Wade +
Electing to chase first up is captain Aaron Finch. That’s the orthodoxy in T20 cricket, to get an idea of how the surface is playing and how to time an innings.
Some major points of interest: the recent IPL auction fates of a few of the less heralded Australian and NZ players. Also the fact that some of the biggest names are not playing in this series given they were picked for the now-abandoned Test tour of South Africa instead. I wrote about all of this in more detail.
Hello hello, it’s cricket time. Australia’s tour of New Zealand is about to get underway, with the men’s teams playing the first of five Twenty20 matches today, while the women’s teams of NZ and England will play the first of three ODIs tomorrow with three T20s to follow. Today and tomorrow the matches will be in Christchurch before the tour moves to Dunedin for the next couple of fixtures.
It’s a bit of a late-season extra as far as Australia’s summer is concerned, with the major international engagements over weeks ago, and a return to lower-key state fixtures that will run all the way into April this season after various virus disruptions. Cricket hasn’t entirely made way for the returning football codes yet.