New Zealand claim series over Australia with big win in T20 decider

Australia fell at the final hurdle in their T20 tour of New Zealand, coming back from two games down only to lose Sunday’s series decider by seven wickets.

Martin Guptill powered the Black Caps past Australia’s 142-8, which looked short of a competitive total. The opener smashed three sixes off one Adam Zampa over – including one out of the stadium and onto the roof of Wellington’s “Cake Tin” – on his way to a thumping 71.

Conway, elevated to open the batting at Tim Seifert’s expense, helped the pair notch a century partnership with 36 runs of his own.

Riley Meredith gave Australia hope when he removed Conway and had captain Kane Williamson trapped lbw next ball. In Meredith’s next over, Guptill asserted his authority with a booming straight drive that missed the Tasmanian by centimetres.

Guptill holed out off Jhye Richardson’s bowling soon after, but the damage was done, New Zealand winning with 27 balls to spare. Spinners Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa went wicketless in the decider after their efforts helped Australia back into the series.

“It would have been nicer if we were walking away with the trophy,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said.

“But I was really pleased with our resilience through the series to bounce back from 2-0 down. There was a lot of character.”

Australia took an 18-man squad to New Zealand, but only used 12 – handing debuts to Josh Philippe and Riley Meredith off the back of strong Big Bash League seasons as Tests stars including Pat Cummins and David Warner remained at home.

Finch nominated the efforts of Philippe and Meredith as two of the major positives. “Josh made a couple of 40s. If he kicks on to 60s and 70s, which has been doing in domestic cricket, that’d be great for his confidence,” he said, implying Philippe will stay with the T20 squad through to India.

Australia would rue their own stuttering innings on Sunday after winning the toss and electing to bat.

A promising powerplay made way to a mid-innings squeeze, with Williamson throwing the ball to part-timers Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman, the latter put in the side for the ailing Kyle Jamieson.

Matthew Wade top scored with 44, ending his miserable run with the bat this tour. Finch (36), Marcus Stoinis (26) and Mitch Marsh (10) were the only others to reach double figures.

Philippe was elevated to opener but looked uncomfortable before being trapped leg before by Trent Boult, while Maxwell found a fielder with his first attempted slog. Finch was dropped on 32 but cut Ish Sodhi straight to point two balls later.

Sodhi – who was named man of the series – took the wickets of Stoinis and Ashton Agar with consecutive full tosses in the 18th over.

After losing the series, Australia aren’t sticking around in the New Zealand capital – chartering a flight home on Sunday evening.