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Australia fightback in vain as New Zealand hold on to win T20I thriller by four runs after Martin Guptill’s 97

New Zealand take 2-0 lead in T20I series with Australia after thrilling four-run win; Martin Guptill’s 50-ball 97 sees Black Caps post 219-7; Australia reeling on 113-6 before Marcus Stoinis (78 off 37) and Daniel Sams (41 off 15) gave them hope; Jimmy Neesham holds nerve in final over

Last Updated: 25/02/21 8:04am

Martin Guptill’s eight sixes took him onto a record 132 in the T20 international format

Martin Guptill smashed eight sixes in a 50-ball 97 before New Zealand saw off a pulsating fightback from Australia to win a T20 thriller by four runs in Dunedin and take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

Opener Guptill ended a run of low scores in spectacular fashion to propel the Black Caps to 219-7 after they had been inserted and Australia tumbled to 113-6 in 13 overs in reply as spinner Mitchell Santner struck four times, including three times in one over.

However, Marcus Stoinis (78 off 37) and Daniel Sams (41 off 15) blazed 92 in just 6.1 overs, leaving Australia requiring 15 from six balls.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson entrusted Jimmy Neesham with the final over despite the all-rounder not having bowled in the game before then and the move paid off.

Marcus Stoinis' brilliant innings of 78 from 37 balls came on vain for Australia

Marcus Stoinis’ brilliant innings of 78 from 37 balls came on vain for Australia

Neesham – who had earlier struck six sixes in rollicking 45 not out from 16 balls with the bat – shipped only 10 runs and removed both Sams and Stoinis as Australia ended on 215-8.

Sams fell to the first ball of the 20th over, caught at deep midwicket, and Australia’s task became even tougher when Neesham bowled two dot balls to Stoinis.

Stoinis carted the fourth ball over long-on for six to reduce the requirement to nine runs from two deliveries but he then holed out to Tim Southee in the deep, before Jhye Richardson struck a consolation four past third man last ball.

The third T20I takes place in Wellington on March 3, before further games in Auckland on March 5 and Tauranga on March 7.

Guptill’s eight sixes took him to a record 132 in his T20 international career, with the 34-year-old overtaking Rohit Sharma’s tally off 127 during his onslaught at University Oval.

The right-hander shared a stand of 131 with Williamson (53 off 35) for New Zealand’s second wicket before he fell three runs short of what would have been his third T20I hundred.

Neesham then hit the first two balls he faced, and four of the first five, for six, while he ended the New Zealand innings by smashing a full toss from Sams into the stands over fine leg – a shot that proved crucial in the end.

Australia had reached 50-1 after five overs in reply with Josh Philippe (45 off 32) leading the charge but Santner (4-31) accounted for Philippe, Ashton Agar (0) and Mitchell Marsh (0) in the 13th over having ousted Glenn Maxwell (3) in the 11th, while fellow spinner Ish Sodhi removed captain Aaron Finch (12).

Stoinis and Sams resuscitated Australia – Stoinis with five sixes and seven fours and Sams with four sixes and two fours – but Neesham held his nerve at the death.

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