New Zealand vs Australia 2021 4th T20I Preview: Series nicely set up as Finch, Maxwell find their mojo back
The return of captain Aaron Finch to form is a massive relief for Australia and gives them a shot at series victory.
Australia back in business
Finch smashed 69 off just 44 deliveries in the 3rd T20I with 8 fours and 2 sixes, scoring at a strike rate of 156.82. His form, coupled with Maxwell's big hits, makes the Australian XI look a lot better.
The intent which Australia showed in the last T20I was commendable and if their big hitters like Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis can get in, it would be very difficult for New Zealand to contain them, especially after Mitchell Santner is a doubtful starter for the hosts.
Both New Zealand and Australia made one change each in the 3rd T20I. While the home team made a forced change with Mitchell Santner ruled out of the match due to head-cold symptoms, as batsman Mark Chapman took his place, Australia brought in tearaway Riley Meredith in place of pace bowling all-rounder Daniel Sams.
Finch and Maxwell guide visitors to glory
It was not the easiest conditions to bat as the Australian openers Matthew Wade and Aaron Finch took guard in the 3rd T20I, with the ball swinging a bit. While Wade was caught at slips off Trent Boult after hitting a boundary, Finch took his time to begin with and then launched into the bowlers, especially Jimmy Neesham and Kyle Jamieson.
Josh Philippe continued to impress with 43 off 27 balls, but gave several chances, the last of which went to hand. Glenn Maxwell finally had his day and he made a big difference, blasting 70 off just 31 deliveries. He hit 8 fours and 5 sixes, going at a strike rate of 225.81 - 2 fours and 4 sixes of which came in a single over off Jimmy Neesham which went for 28 runs.
NZ need more bowling options
Neesham's poor execution of T20 bowling skills hurt New Zealand a lot, especially after they were without the sixth bowling option following Mitchell Santner being ruled out of the T20I at the last minute.
Given that the surface was a true one, Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson all were expensive, but did their job, but it was Neesham conceding 60 from his 4 overs which cost New Zealand dearly.
The stand out bowler for the home side was leggie Ish Sodhi who conceded 32 runs from his four overs while picking up two crucial wickets.
NZ batting falters in pursuit of going big
Given the scoreboard pressure, the New Zealand batsmen had no option but to swing for the fence from ball one. Martin Guptill did that successfully, adding 43 off 28 balls at a strike rate of over 150.
Devon Conway also achieved it to some extent with 38 off 27 deliveries. But the following batsmen kept losing their wickets in the pursuit of going big.
Ashton Agar, the star for Oz
Ashton Agar, who was pumped for three boundaries through the covers by Devon Conway in his first over, bounced back in style, finishing with figures of 4-0-30-6 to single-handedly destroy the New Zealand batting.
"It is always nice to pick wickets especially when you go wicketless in the first two games. But I was lucky, we had 200 on the board and it makes my job a lot easier, the boys also bowled well upfront. I think in the past it (going wicketless) would have got to me but now I have played enough to move on, take it as a new game and a new chance to do something good here. Once I started tossing the ball up I got something out of it. They (the batsmen) have been amazing. Maxwell was incredible, Finchy is back among the runs and really good signs going ahead in the series," Player of the Match, Ashton Agar said after the match.
Australia on the rise
Riley Meredith, on debut, also made an impression, picking up two wickets from his 4 overs while conceding just 24 runs. With Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell back in form, it will only get tougher for New Zealand from here on.
If Mitchell Santner remains unavailable, New Zealand will have to bring in either Hamish Bennett or Adam Milne to provide themselves with the sixth bowling option.
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/Hamish Bennett, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Australia - Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Josh Philippe, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Riley Meredith, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa
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