Aussies smashed by high-flying Kiwis but Finch says they can bounce back




Australia’s T20 World Cup title defence is off to the worst possible start after the host nation copped an 89-run flogging from New Zealand at the SCG on Saturday night.

The result is crucial to their title hopes, with the Aussies now facing a must-win run through the rest of the group stage to qualify for the finals.

Chasing 201, they were never in the hunt.

But captain Aaron Finch insists Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup defence is not over after one game, despite facing six consecutive must-win matches to defend their crown.

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Attempting to become the first team to win the tournament on home soil, Australia’s campaign got off to a horror start on Saturday night as the Black Caps plundered 3-200 batting first.

Australia could only muster 111 in reply, spun out by Mitchell Santner (3-31) and comprehensively beaten by Tim Southee (3-6) as they were dismissed in just 17.1 overs.

Only Glenn Maxwell passed 20 runs in Australia’s top and middle order with 28, but even his glimmer of a return to form came as the hosts lost wickets at a rapid rate.

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The defeat means Australia will likely need to win their last four group games to have any chance of advancing to the semi-finals.

That run will include a tough clash with the No.1-ranked England on Friday night in Melbourne, as well as Sri Lanka on Tuesday in Perth plus Ireland and Afghanistan in the next fortnight.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 22: Aaron Finch of Australia leaves the field after being dismissed by Mitchell Santner of New Zealand during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on October 22, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Even victories in all those matches may not be enough for Aaron Finch’s men if results go against them, after their net run rate copped a hammering in the heavy defeat.

“You still have to be positive,” Finch said after the match. 

“We still back ourselves that we can win four and we need a bit of luck along the way.

“We still feel as though we’ve got the right structure of team and the right players to win the World Cup. 

“But obviously it has taken a big hit today.”

David Warner departed early in comical circumstances when the ball ricocheted off his body onto his bat then dragged back onto the stumps for five.

The struggling Finch made just 13, while Mitchell Marsh (16), Maxwell (28) and Tim David (11) also threatened to get going but also quickly came unstuck.

Marcus Stoinis (seven) and Matthew Wade (two) fell cheaply and the tail went down swinging as Australia were bowled out for a paltry 111.

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Summing up the match was a jaw-dropping catch on the boundary from Glenn Phillips to remove Stoinis, the Black Cap immedately turning to a stunned contingent of Australian fans to celebrate.

Earlier, New Zealand pounded their way to 3-200 in their World Cup opener at the SCG.

Opener Devon Conway smashed 92 not out from 58 balls, as no Australian bowler was spared in the Black Caps’ assault after Finch won the toss and opted to bowl first.

Josh Hazlewood was the hosts’ best with 2-41 but still went at over 10 per over, while Mitchell Starc (0-36), Pat Cummins (0-46) and Adam Zampa (1-39) were all expensive.

Conway was the main destroyer, with his unbeaten 92 helping the Black Caps to their highest total in a T20 World Cup match.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 22: Devon Conway of New Zealand bats during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between Australia and New Zealand at Sydney Cricket Ground on October 22, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Devon Conway. (Photo by Jason McCawley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Australia have a habit of trying to adopt Kiwi stars called Finn, and they might try to claim New Zealand’s hard-hitting opener Finn Allen as their own.

Just like Tim and Neil Finn in the 1980s, Allen took centre stage at the SCG with a brilliant performance, which was music to the ears of the Black Caps at the SCG.

The rising star blasted 42 off just 16 deliveries in a whirlwind performance to kick off the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup, and Australia never recovered to go down to their Trans-Tasman rivals in the worst possible start to their title defence. 

The right-hander hit Starc for a big six over midwicket and two other boundaries in the opening over, as Australia’s danger man missed his yorker length.

New Zealand’s 0-29 off two overs was Australia’s most costly start in World Cup history, Cummins and Stoinis also getting belted over the boundary when they joined the attack. 

Conway finished with nine boundaries, as he took to Adam Zampa and brought up his 50 off 36 balls with one of two sixes he hit off the legspinner.

He also looked comfortable against the quicks, driving both Hazlewood and Cummins with ease.

Hazlewood at least stunted the Black Caps’ momentum slightly when he had Glenn Phillips caught and bowled, while Zampa got the key wicket of Kane Williamson for 23.

“I have to give a lot of credit to Finn and the way he played,” player of the match Conway said of his opening partner. 

“The way he put them under pressure allowed me to get those balls that were slightly looser. 

“In T20 cricket if you put bowlers under pressure, no matter how good they are, it’s a tough gig.”





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