New Zealand vs Australia 2021 3rd T20I Preview: Amid Covid-19 concerns, Australia aim to open account
Following another case of community transmission, the remaining matches of the New Zealand vs Australia series have been moved to Wellington and will be played in the absence of spectators.
Covid-19 continues to be the party pooper
It is a shame that after a thrilling second T20I of the 5-match series, that was made even more special by packed crowds cheering and gasping at every tiny event, the remaining matches of the series will be played behind closed doors i.e without any crowds.
Alert Level 2 protocols have been put in place in Auckland after another case of community transmission in the area. All six matches - three each for NZ men and women - will now be played behind closed doors at Wellington. As per the NZC statement, the change has been forced on NZC because of logistical complications arising from the transfer of Friday's second double-header from Auckland to Wellington.
Martin Guptill roars back to form
Martin Guptill was struggling to go big for a long time now and his place in the New Zealand playing XI was under scrutiny, especially after his early departure in the first T20I of the series. Guptill reiterated that form is temporary and class is permanent as he roared back to form with a sensational 97 off just 50 deliveries.
The opener struck 6 fours and 8 sixes while batting at a strike rate of 194. He was all set to reach his century with a six but was caught right on the boundary. This has not only ensured that New Zealand have some form at the top of the order given Tim Seifert's failures in the first two T20Is but also gives Guptill some credits in the bank to lengthen his international career.
Kiwis go big
Unlike the 1st T20I, there was not a lot of swing on offer in the second match of the series and the Kiwis made the most of it. The most crucial partnership of the New Zealand innings came between Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson who added 131 runs to set the pace of the innings.
While Guptill was dismissed just three runs shy of his century, Williamson scored a brilliant half century, batting at a strike rate of over 150, contrary to the claims of his slow going in T20s. Jimmy Neesham then gave New Zealand the impetus second time in a row with an unbeaten 45 off just 16 deliveries. Neesham batted at a strike rate of over 280 and struck one four and 6 sixes to take New Zealand to 219.
Australian bowlers peppered
The Australian bowlers continued to struggle with their lengths and were quite expensive. Kane Richardson was the pick of the bowlers and picked up 3 wickets but was very expensive and conceded 43 runs.
Australia missed a sixth bowling option despite Marcus Stoinis and Mitchell Marsh in their ranks. Stoinis, who was brought in to take some overs off Ashton Agar's quota, went for 17 runs in his only over.
Sams and Stoinis sparkle
Josh Philippe looked good for his 45 off 32 deliveries but Mitchell Santner's three rapid strikes meant that Australia were almost gone at 113/6 after the 13th over. It was then time for the Daniel Sams and Marcus Stoinis show.
Sams batted at another level and took just 15 deliveries to smash 41 runs with the help of 2 fours and 4 sixes, batting at a strike rate of 273.33. Stoinis was equally punishing both of the spinners and the fast bowlers and struck 78 off 37 balls at a strike rate 210.81.
With 15 runs to defend off the last over bowled by Jimmy Neesham, Australia were in with a big chance. However, the duo of Sams and Stoinis ran out of steam by then. Both were dismissed off miscued hoicks as Australia came tantalizingly close to the finish line but could not get across it to eventually lose by 4 runs.
If there isn't a lot of swing on offer, there will be another bat-off between the powerful hitters of both sides. Whoever wins the batting battle, wins the war.
Here's the probable playing XI of both teams:
New Zealand - Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Josh Philippe, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Daniel Sams, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
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