Sydney: New Zealand and England started their T20 World Cup campaign with wins.
The Australia-New Zealand clash in the Super 12 stage of the Men’s T20 World Cup was touted to go the way it had been in the 2021 final in Dubai. But, on Saturday, the Black Caps turned the tables on the hosts and defending champions with a comprehensive 89-run thrashing at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday to break their 11-year winless run in Australia.
Key to New Zealand starting their campaign with a bang were their openers, Devon Conway carrying his bat through the innings for an unbeaten 92 off 58 balls while his partner, young Finn Allen blasted 42 off just 16 balls in the Power-play and James Neesham hit a cameo of 26 off 13 deliveries to post a mammoth 200/3 in their 20 overs.
In reply, Tim Southee (3/6) and Mitchell Santner (3/31) ensured that Australia never got going in their tall chase to be skittled out for just 111 in 17.1 overs, with no batter reaching 30 runs and leaving a huge dent in the hosts’ title defence in terms of net run rate, which would now be a decisive factor in their quest to reach semifinals.
Pushed into batting first, though the ever-reliable Conway missed his century by just eight runs, he put the Australian bowling attack to the sword, smashing seven boundaries and two sixes with pristine timing and crunchy shots to hold the New Zealand innings together, as seen in them taking 14 runs off Mitchell Starc’s opening over.
But Conway’s aggression was nothing compared to his opening partner Allen’s, who was dropped at 18 by Adam Zampa and went on to hit a 16-ball 42 blitz at a mind-boggling strike rate touching 263, smacking five boundaries and three sixes before being bowled by Josh Hazlewood in the fifth over with the Black Caps losing their first wicket for 56 runs.
In the second match, All-rounder Sam Curran’s sensational five-for led England to a convincing five-wicket win over Afghanistan in a Super 12 match of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 at Perth Stadium, here on Saturday.
Curran employed the short ball, alongside the occasional full delivery to great effect to remove Ibrahim Zadran, Usman Ghani, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, and Fazalhaq Farooqi and become the first cricketer from England to take a five-for in T20Is.
His historical performance helped England bowl out the Mohammed Nabi-led Afghanistan for a meagre total of 112 in 19.4 overs. Ibrahim (32) and Ghani (30), who played with a degree of confidence in tricky conditions, were the top scorers for Afghanistan.
In reply, England chased down the target with five wickets and 11 deliveries to spare. Liam Livingstone top-scored for his side with an unbeaten 29-ball 21, while Jos Buttler, Davin Malan and Alex Hales made scores of 18, 18 and 19 respectively.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, England bowlers kept the Afghanistan batters under pressure right from the beginning of the match. They restricted the Afghans to less than six runs per over in the Power-play and took the sole wicket of Rahmanullah Gurbaz courtesy of Mark Wood.