Team selection and batsmen’s temptation for big hits on small Dharamsala ground undid the good work of the openers for both Australia and New Zealand. While the Black Caps did manage to post 142/8, Australia lacked the firepower to chase it down. The New Zealand spinners produced some magical bowling to take their team home aided by the pace of Mitchell McCleaghan. Here are the five points that changed the course of the game: (Full Coverage|| Fixtures||Photos)
Team selection: Steve Smith was asked at the toss about his team’s openers for the game against New Zealand. Surprisingly, or may be not, he revealed that Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson will open the batting. That meant David Warner would come down the order. But what was more surprising was that world’s best T20I batsman, Aaron Finch had to miss out. It was not a matter of concern for Australia as they did well to restrict New Zealand to 142/8 and later the two new openers gave a brilliant start and took their team to 44/1 after 5 overs. And then it all went wrong.
Watson fell and so did the other Australia batsmen. The last nail in the coffin was Khawaja’s run-out. New Zealand bowlers once again showed how to adapt to conditions. They picked a pacer and it was neither Tim Southee nor Trent Boult. This shows how confident they are of the team.
Guptill carnage: He once again began the match with a boundary but this time he did not get out the next ball. He continued and carried New Zealand on his shoulders. Kane Williamson provided able support but it was Guptill’s innings of 39 runs off 27 balls with four sixes that gave his team a flying start.
The collapse: Once Guptill departed in the eighth over, New Zealand batsmen fell like nine pins. The shot selection can be blamed for their dismissal as most of them were caught in the deep. Except for Colin Munro and Grant Elliott, none showed application. The temptation of a small ground played on every player’s mind and that they wanted to get on with the match. It all meant more catching for the fielders in the deep.
WILLIAMSON: We were fortunate to play on similar wickets
Australia’s rise and fall: Just like New Zealand, Australia were also off to a great start. They reached 42/0 after five overs. Khawaja in particular was ruthless and got boundaries at will. Watson, like Williamson, was great support for him. But then Watson tried a big one and failed. He was caught at mid-off and that triggered an Australian collapse. Smith was stumped, Khawaja was run-out and later Warner too was caught in the deep trying to get a move on. Just like New Zealand, Australia had collapsed.
Death: Mitchell McCleaghan and Ish Sodhi were superb at the death for New Zealand. Sodhi got the wicket of Maxwell in the 16th over and gave only five runs off it. He finished with one for 14 off his four overs. McCleaghan took three for 17 off his three overs. And then there was Michael Santner who had foxed the Australia batsmen just like he did the India batsmen in Nagpur.