New Zealand 200 for 3 (Conway 92*, Allen 42) beat Australia 111 (Maxwell 28, Southee 3-6, Santner 3-31) by 89 runs
By the end, the Kiwis were doing things that shouldn’t be possible. Like flying.
It began like it almost always does in the first over. It ended here too. Just like in that game.
Mitchell Starc once broke New Zealand with the fifth ball he bowled. Here he was sent packing into the crowd beyond the straight boundary. Allen went for the same shot Brendon McCullum did all those years ago. Minus all the hurtling down the track. Turns out, having a stable base, and presenting a straight bat can be fun too.
New Zealand ransacked 14 runs off the first over. Not since the third season of Game of Thrones has a man named Starc been taken down with such ferocity.
Allen is a 360-degree player. More than that, he is pure power. Ever since he made his debut in March 2021, his strike rate of 156 in the first six overs is head and shoulders above everybody else in T20Is (min. 10 innings).
The problem was he got out too early. Fifty-five percent of his knocks ended within 10 balls. In Sydney, he got to face six more than that, and that was enough. Those brutal swings down the ground off Starc were followed by skillful punches off the back foot off Josh Hazlewood and the most full-blooded of all full-blooded pulls off Pat Cummins.
Australia’s big three were lined up one by one and… bang, bang, bang.
How it ended
Allen fell in the fifth over, but New Zealand already had 56 runs on the board. That gave them so much cushion that Kane Williamson could come in, struggle, look short of the answers everyone wants him to find and still end up on the winning side. The New Zealand captain’s run-a-ball 23 wasn’t the story on Saturday but it may be one later on in the tournament.
Conway is owed some credit for things turning out this way. Unlike most left-handers, he looks for his boundaries on the off side, which is where he found 58 of his runs tonight at a strike rate of 187. He’s also better against spin than he is against pace. So when Australia realised they had to slow things down, they fell into his trap. Adam Zampa went for 39 runs in his four overs at the SCG. Conway clattered 32 of them, including two sixes.
The final flourish came from Jimmy Neesham, which was very much on brand. Since the 2021 World Cup, he’s hit 23 fours and 22 sixes in the last four overs of a T20, putting him in the same calibre of finishers as Andre Russell, Tim David, Dinesh Karthik and David Miller.
How it never really began
Bad luck and the bizarre had a baby and it turned into the ball that got David Warner out. One second it was an innocuous change-up, the next, it took the inside edge of a pull shot, bounced up off the thigh and just hovered in the air; in that perfect spot for the bat to catch up with it on the follow-through, and rebound onto the stumps.
Talk about a sign. Warner, who averages 90 in home T20Is since 2019, gone.
New Zealand then did the most New Zealand thing. They logicked a win.
Trent Boult was getting loads of swing, but they stopped his first spell at two overs and went to Mitchell Santner.
Why, because Mitchell Marsh was at the crease and he doesn’t do spin (T20 strike rate 110) as well as he does pace (T20 strike rate 140). Also, the other batter, Aaron Finch has been woeful against left-arm spin this year (14 runs in five innings and two dismissals). Guess what happened…
Finch c Williamson b Santner 13 off 11. Australia 30 for 2, then 68 for 5, then 111 all out.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo