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Australia

Finch blitz levels series to set up cracking Wellington finale

NZ v Aus, 4th T20I, report

The T20I series between New Zealand and Australia will go down to the fifth match after the visitors restored parity in Wellington on Friday, 5 March, with a fine 50-run win.

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Australia survived a batting collapse to post 156/6, thanks to captain Aaron Finch’s 79*, and the bowlers followed it up with a combined display to bundle New Zealand out for 106 in the penultimate over of the chase. 

It sets things up nicely for the final T20I on Sunday at the same venue, with crowds once again cleared to watch the action after the relaxation of Wellington’s alert level status. 

Australia opted to bat, but the New Zealand bowlers, particularly Ish Sodhi, were relentless. They lost their opening wicket in as early as the third over, when Matthew Wade holed out to Mitchell Santner. Finch, his opening partner, sealed up the other end, but the rest of the Australian batsmen failed to convert their starts.

Finch put on mini-partnerships with each of them. He added a steady 24 with Josh Philippe, at less than a-run-a-ball, to take the sting out of the early loss of Wade, and then accelerated in 26 and 25-run stands with Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis respectively.

Sodhi and Trent Boult dismantled the middle order, but so long as Finch was in the middle, Australia were dangerous. And so it proved in the death overs, with Finch even lifting four sixes in the final over to end unbeaten on a 55-ball 79* and lift Australia’s total to a respectable figure.

New Zealand chose a steady approach in their chase. Unfortunately for the hosts, they couldn’t keep their wickets intact to build on that. Martin Guptill fell for a 10-ball 7 in the fifth over, and Tim Seifert followed suit for a 28-ball 19 three overs later. Kane Williamson couldn’t do much, caught off a miscued sweep against Maxwell. 

Glenn Phillips was disastrously run out the next over, and at the halfway stage of the chase, New Zealand were 41/4, with a lofty 116 runs more required with half their side back in the dugout.

They never really recovered. Apart from Kyle Jamieson, who swung his bat to score an 18-ball 30 with little hope left, none of the middle and lower-order batsmen touched double-digits. Kane Richardson dismantled the tail to return 3/19, and Australia had another terrific win.

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