Australia finished agonisingly short in another big run chase in New Zealand, falling 2-0 behind in their T20 series with the Black Caps. Unlike Monday’s 52-run capitulation in Christchurch, there was no debacle in Dunedin as Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams steered Australia to within touching distance of New Zealand’s 219-6.
When Mitchell Santner took 3-6 in the 13th over – dismissing Josh Philippe and then Ashton Agar and Mitch Marsh for golden ducks – the game looked dead and buried. But Stoinis and Sams revived Australia, combining for a stunning 92-run seventh wicket partnership only to both fall in the final over as Australia finished with 215-8.
Stoinis was lethal, reaching his first international half century off 22 balls before finishing with 78 off 37. Sams was even more explosive, scoring 41 off 15 before missing out on a full toss in Jimmy Neesham’s final over.
The pair ultimately had too much to do after a Kiwi innings powered by Martin Guptill. Guptill returned to form with a mighty 97 off 50, falling just short of a century when he was caught on the boundary. The 34-year-old smashed eight sixes and six fours, with Kane Williamson’s measured 53 off 35 proving a fine foil.
New Zealand’s total was the third biggest score ever tallied against Australia. The series resumes in Wellington on 3 March, when Santner (4-31) will have the chance to complete his hat-trick.
Australia will need to win that match, as well as matches at Auckland’s Eden Park and Tauranga’s Bay Oval if they are to claim the series. New Zealand’s stirring win keeps alive their unbeaten status at their “leafy fortress”, a run which now stretches to 17 matches across three formats.