Conway, bowlers set up 1-0 lead for Kiwis
All-round New Zealand have taken upper-hands in the first of five T20Is against Australia with a 53-run victory at Hagley Oval, Christchurch.
Electing to bat first, Australia got the perfect start with Daniel Sams getting Martin Guptill, who scored his first-ever duck in T20Is, in the first over. Skipper Kane Williamson fell to Sams as well as New Zealand slumped to 19/3.
Then arrived Devon Conway, the in-form man from NZ domestic Super Smash T20. Glenn Phillips’s 20-ball 30 also helped the momentum shift towards the hosts’ side.
Conway went on to score his third T20I fifty in seven matches, what could have been a maiden hundred. He was stranded on 59-ball 99 not out as New Zealand posted 184/5 on board. The left-hander hit three sixes in 10 fours in his innings. Jimmy Neesham hit 15-ball 26 add support.
Conway became only the fourth player to score 99 not out in T20I cricket Dawid Malan and Mohammad Hafeez did it last December. Luke Wright was the first to do so in the 2012 T20 World Cup.
IPL millionaire Jhye Richardson took 2 for 31 while Glenn Maxwell made only 1 run later in Australia’s chase. New Zealand’s Kyle Jamieson went for 32 runs in three overs but got one wicket.
New ball bowlers Trent Boult and Tim Southee pushed the Aussies on the backfoot, setting them at 19/4. The rest of the damage was done by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi, who claimed career-best figures of four wickets for 28 runs.
Mitchell Marsh was the top-scorer, making 45 runs from 33 deliveries. Ashton Agar struck 23 off 13 only to shorten the margin of defeat.
Over 9000 fans attended the series opener. Dunedin will host the second T20I on February 25.
New Zealand 184/5 in 20 overs (Conway 99*, Phillips 30; J Richardson 2/31, Sams 2/40)
Australia 131 allout in 17.3 overs (M Marsh 45; Sodhi 4/28, Southee 2/10, Boult 2/22)
New Zealand won by 53 runs
Player of the Match: Devon Conway