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Ashton Agar

Maxwell, Agar sizzle as Australia keep alive T20I series hopes

NZ v Aus, 3rd T20I, report

Australia coasted to victory in the third T20I against New Zealand to keep themselves alive in the five-match series in Wellington.

SCORECARD

Australia posted a mammoth 208/4 after being asked to bat, with captain Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell smashing half-centuries. Then, Ashton Agar returned the best figures by an Australian in men’s T20Is – a stunning 6/30 – to help bundle New Zealand out for 144 in a 64-run victory.

The victory meant Australia reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the series, with two matches still to play. 

After being asked to bat, Australia lost Matthew Wade in just the second over, after he edged one off Trent Boult to Martin Guptill at slip. That was as good as it got for New Zealand in the first innings. Thereafter, Finch, with Josh Philippe at the other end for company, went about flaying the bowlers, the duo putting on an 83-run stand for the second wicket.

The stand was broken in the 10th over, when Ish Sodhi got the better Philippe, who had scored an impressive 27-ball 43, but the wicket, if anything, helped Australia as an in-form Maxwell turned out and hammered all before him.

Maxwell scored a 31-ball 70, a knock comprising eight fours and five sixes, and put on partnerships of 64 and 41 with Finch and Marcus Stoinis respectively. The scoring accelerated as the innings progressed, despite the dismissal of Finch in the 16th over, with the Stoinis-Maxwell partnership of 41 coming off just 13 deliveries. 

The high-flying Maxwell was dismissed in the 18th over, but Australia took their total past 200, and New Zealand needed a big start to stay in the chase. Guptill looked to provide them that with a roaring 28-ball 43 first up, but New Zealand suffered at the other end, as Tim Seifert and Kane Williamson were dismissed for single digits, with debutant Riley Meredith taking both wickets.

Devon Conway, whose century in the first T20I lit up the series, offered Guptill some support, but Australia’s bowlers were relentless. Once Guptill was dismissed in the ninth over, New Zealand never looked in the chase as Agar set about them. 

Agar sent back Conway, whose sweep was caught at midwicket, and followed it up with the wickets of Glenn Phillips (13), Jimmy Neesham (0), Mark Chapman (18), Tim Southee (5), and Kyle Jamieson (11). Agar’s 6/30 were the best figures by an Australian in men’s T20 cricket, and it meant New Zealand were bowled out in just 17.1 overs.

The fourth T20I, on Friday, should be a cracker.

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