The Australia-New Zealand clash in the Super 12 stage of the Men's T20 World Cup was touted to go the way it had been in 2021 final in Dubai. But, on Saturday, the Black Caps turned the tables on the hosts and defending champions with a comprehensive 89-run thrashing at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday to break their 11-year winless run in Australia.
Key to New Zealand starting their campaign with a bang were their openers, Devon Conway carrying his bat through the innings for an unbeaten 92 off 58 balls while his partner, young Finn Allen blasted 42 off just 16 balls in the Power-play and James Neesham hit a cameo of 26 off 13 deliveries to post a mammoth 200/3 in their 20 overs.
In reply, Tim Southee (3/6) and Mitchell Santner (3/31) ensured that Australia never got going in their tall chase to be skittled out for just 111 in 17.1 overs, with no batter reaching 30 runs and leaving a huge dent in the hosts' title defence in terms of net run rate, which would now be a decisive factor in their quest to reach semifinals.
Pushed into batting first, though the ever-reliable Conway missed his century by just eight runs, he put the Australian bowling attack to the sword, smashing seven boundaries and two sixes with pristine timing and crunchy shots to hold the New Zealand innings together, as seen in them taking 14 runs off Mitchell Starc's opening over.
But Conway's aggression was nothing compared to his opening partner Allen's, who was dropped at 18 by Adam Zampa and went on to hit a 16-ball 42 blitz at a mind-boggling strike rate touching 263, smacking five boundaries and three sixes before being bowled by Josh Hazlewood in the fifth over with the Black Caps losing their first wicket for 56 runs.
But by then, Allen had done his job of giving New Zealand an electrifying start and giving Conway the time, he needed to get going. Skipper Kane Williamson and Conway stitched together a fruitful 69-run partnership off 53 balls for the second wicket, giving last edition's runners-up a huge fillip as they aimed for a big score.
Though Williamson and Glenn Phillips fell in quick succession, that New Zealand finally put exactly 200 on the board was thanks to Neesham's cameo while striking at exactly 200 as the Kiwis posted an imposing target for Aaron Finch's side to chase.
Australia had the worst possible start to their chase of 201 as David Warner tried to pull off Southee in the second over, but the ball was inside-edged which went up in the air and lobbed off the bat's follow-through to hit the stumps in a bizarre dismissal.
Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh hit a four and a six each, but New Zealand took them out in successive overs. While Finch lofted straight to extra cover off Santner, Marsh was deceived by a slower ball from Southee and holed out to deep mid-wicket as Australia ended Power-play at 37/3, including playing 22 dot balls.
Australia's troubles were further deepened as Santner picked two more wickets -- Marcus Stoinis went inside-out for a drive over cover and was caught by Phillips, who ran across from the deep and threw himself in the air for a sensational catch while Tim David holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Australia's night went from bad to worse as Matthew Wade nicked behind off Lockie Ferguson while Glenn Maxwell, who hit a 20-ball 28, was castled by Ish Sodhi in an attempt to switch-hit the leg-spinner. The result was a foregone conclusion by then as Trent Boult clean bowled Mitchell Starc and Zampa with slower balls and Southee completed his three-fer with Pat Cummins' scalp to give Australia their second-heaviest loss in T20Is.
Brief scores: New Zealand 200/3 in 20 overs (Finn Allen 42, Devon Conway 92 not out, James Neesham 26 not out) beat Australia 111 all out in 17.1 overs (Glenn Maxwell 28, Pat Cummins 21; Tim Southee 3/6, Mitchell Santner 3/13) by 89 runs