Devon Conway has a bit of an idea about what it takes to break into the record books. Last year, the New Zealand opener smashed a double century on his Test debut against England and reached several milestones on the way.
At the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday, the 31-year-old was once again a part of history as his unbeaten 92 off 58 deliveries (7x4, 2x6) guided New Zealand to an 89-run win over Australia in the opening fixture of T20 World Cup’s Super-12 stage.
Conway and youngster Finn Allen (42, 16b, 5x4, 3x6) – the two architects of the emphatic win – deservedly received all the cheers from teammates and fans for the Blacks Caps’ first triumph against the Kangaroos in Australia in 11 years.
New Zealand, asked to bat first against a star-studded Aussie pace battery, were undaunted by the challenge. Allen found the boundary off Mitchell Starc’s second ball and followed it up with a six and four. His fearless approach allowed Conway to settle in and pace his game according to the situation.
In Josh Hazlewood’s opening over, Conway smashed a couple of fours, before allowing Allen to take charge.
The young gun – making the most of a dropped catch by Adam Zampa when he was at 19 – helped New Zealand cruise to 50 in just 3.5 overs.
In front of a 34,756-strong crowd at the SCG, Australian pacers had a nightmarish PowerPlay, where Starc conceded 14, Hazlewood 15 and Pat Cummins 17 runs in their opening overs. Hazlewood found the breakthrough – a yorker rattling Allen’s stumps – with the first ball of the fifth over.
New Zealand’s momentum slowed down as captain Kane Wiliamson, struggling to adjust to the pace initially, offered quite a few dot balls and managed just a run-a-ball 23. After galloping to 56 in the first four overs, the Kiwis added just 41 runs in the following six. Williamson and Conway relied on singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard moving before Zampa trapped the New Zealand captain leg-before.
After Glenn Phillips departed, if was left to Conway to up the ante with Jimmy Neesham (26 no., 13b, 2x6). The duo muscled a few lofty shots to bring in 15 runs in the 18th over. A towering six over long-on from Neesham from the last ball of the innings took his team to 200-3.
Australia failed to find its rhythm in the chase and was bowled out for 111 in 18 overs with just Glenn Maxwell and Cummins crossing the 20-run mark. David Warner was unlucky as a Tim Southee delivery nicked his glove, thigh and bat before hitting the stumps. Aaron Finch and Mitchell Marsh also failed to fire, and Australia was soon teetering at 34 for three in 4.5 overs.
Marcus Stoinis, too, fell after Phillips ran to his right from deep cover, leaping full length to take a stunning catch as the Aussie power-hitter tried to target Mitchell Santner in a desperate bid to wriggle out of trouble.
Santner and Southee claimed three wickets each as Australia succumbed to its lowest T20I total at home.