New Zealand vs Australia 2021 5th T20I Preview: Resurgent Oz favourites to clinch series
Australian captain Aaron Finch said before the 3rd T20I that his team was confident of winning the last three matches to take the series. You might not have taken him seriously at that point, but Australia have a real shot of doing it now.
Australia roar back
Australia were way off to begin the series as New Zealand cleaned them up in the first T20 by 53 runs and were then dominating most of the match before Marcus Stoinis decided to do something special in the second T20. Still, the visitors fell just short of the target.
After a clinical win in the third T20, Australia needed to win the 4th T20 as well in order to keep the series alive and this is exactly what they did, winning it by a huge margin of 50 runs.
Westpac stadium's slow track
Given that 4 matches have already been played on the strip at the Westpac stadium in Wellington - two men's and two women's - and a couple more are set to be played on it, it was understandable that the pitch was quite sluggish and assisted the slow bowlers from quite early on.
This is the reason why Mitchell Santner was brought into the attack by Kane Williamson as early as the third over and he struck right away, dismissing Matthew Wade, who hasn't had a great series till now. It was difficult to score for Australia in the fourth T20I as the ball was not coming onto the bat.
NZ's bowling stars
As a result, Ish Sodhi finished as the highest wicket taker for New Zealand, picking up 3 wickets while conceding 32 runs from his 4 overs. Mitchell Santner may have taken only one wicket, but he was extremely economical, giving away just 16 runs from his 4 overs .
The pressure that Santner built, created opportunities at the other end as Trent Boult also picked up two wickets from his four overs while conceding 27 runs.
Finch is back
Kyle Jamieson was going alright in his first few overs but he was taken to the cleaners by Aaron Finch in the last over as the Australian captain belted 26 runs to take Australia from 130 to 156 in a matter of six deliveries.
It is amazing that after struggling for so long, including the first two matches of this series, Australian captain Aaron Finch is now the highest run getter in the series with 161 runs from 4 matches at an average of over 50 and a strike rate of 140.
Finch was very sensible from the beginning and ensured that wickets did not fall at both ends. He only accelerated in the last two overs and brought up his half century at close to run a ball. He ensured that he was set and available to cash-in in the last over of the innings, which gave Australia the momentum going into their bowling innings.
New Zealand batsmen implode twice in two matches
The New Zealand batting line up never really got going as only three of their batsmen reached double figures, one of whom was Kyle Jamieson, batting at number 9. Tim Seifert and Devon Conway were the other two to get starts, scoring 19 and 17 runs respectively.
New Zealand's best chance after the early dismissal of Martin Guptill was if either Kane Williamson or Devon Conway, the team's two most in-form players, scored at least a half century. That clearly did not happen.
Power hitting was not going to be easy at the Westpac stadium. The 156 run total seemed more like 206 for the home team as the Australian spinners placed a stranglehold on the New Zealand batsmen.
Ashton Agar was their standout bowler once again after picking up 6-fer in the last game and picked up two wickets while conceding just 11 runs from his 4 overs. Adam Zampa also picked up two while bowling tight lines. Part time off spinner Glenn Maxwell was also brilliant, conceding just 13 from 3 overs while dismissing Kane Williamson and Mitchell Santner.
Kane Richardson finished with figures of 2.5-0-19-3. Riley Meredith and Jhye Richardson did not have much to do.
NZ's Jamieson problem in focus as Oz push for series win
While Australia are likely to go in with the same side, New Zealand can bring in Hamish Bennett in place of Kyle Jamieson, who has been very expensive in the series till now.
With momentum on their side, Australia have a real chance of winning the series, which would be a big achievement after being 0-2 down.
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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