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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 6 March 2021

Devon Conway leads New Zealand to crushing win over Australia in first T20

Batsman smashes 99 not out from 59 balls as IPL millionaires Glenn Maxwell and Kyle Jamieson struggle

Left-hand batsman Devon Conway missed his century by just one run but managed to inspire New Zealand to a 53-run win over Australia in the first T20 in Christchurch on Monday.

Conway smashed an unbeaten 99 off 59 balls as the Black Caps overcame a shaky start to finish on 184-5 after losing the toss and being put in to bat.

In reply, Australia were all out for 131 after 17.3 overs, with Black Caps leg-spinner Ish Sodhi taking 4-28.

Since it was the first T20 after the IPL auction, the spotlight was on the handful of players who earned mega contracts. Australia all-rounder Glen Maxwell, who was snapped by Royal Challengers Bangalore for $1.95 million, could only manage one from five balls in the chase. Up-and-coming Kiwi star Kyle Jamieson, bought for $2m by Bangalore, went for 32 from three overs and struggled with his run-up and control.

However, pacer Jhye Richardson, fresh from signing a $1.9 million contract with Punjab Kings, was the pick of the Australian bowlers, taking 2-31.

But the day belonged to Conway, whose 59-ball knock included 10 fours and three sixes, helping the Black Caps bounce back from 19-3.

Australia suffered a horror show early in their innings, as seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult tore through the top order.

Luckless debutant Josh Philippe departed for two after sending a top-edge skyward.

But old campaigners such as skipper Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell also failed to deal with the swinging ball and the tourists were soon 19-4.

Mitch Marsh top-scored with 45 and Ashton Agar contributed 23 a string of batting failures gave New Zealand a comfortable win.

Australia captain Aaron Finch refused to blame the loss on his team's two-week Covid-19 quarantine upon arrival in New Zealand.

"It feels like a long time since we played but we were treated brilliantly [in quarantine]," he said.

"They just ran harder and we didn't get it right."

Conway said he was "pretty chuffed" with his career-best effort, even though he was stranded just short of a century after failing to take two runs off the final ball.

The South African-born batsman came to the crease with New Zealand teetering at 11-2 and was still settling in when captain Kane Williamson departed for 12.

"The key was to try to stay positive, that's when I'm at my best," Conway said.

"I was trying not to think too far ahead and just build good partnerships."

Veteran opening batsman Martin Guptill will be under pressure after his poor run of form continued with a duck in the opening over. The Black Caps may turn to uncapped Finn Allen for the next match in Dunedin on Thursday.

Updated: February 22, 2021 05:05 PM

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