‘It was one of the great games’ – Kane Richardson
When New Zealand, riding on Martin Guptill’s 54-ball 105 and Colin Munro’s 33-ball 76, put up 243/6 in their triangular Twenty20 International series match at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, 16 February, they would have backed themselves to win the game.
But, as it turned out, with David Warner and D’Arcy Short blazing away at the top, Australia not only got to the target, they got there with seven balls in hand, prompting Kane Richardson to call it “one of the great games”.
“One-day cricket, the occasional 350 vs 350 is tough work, but that's something else. Twelve an over for the whole game, two a ball for the whole game! To do it with seven balls to spare, that's an amazing effort. It was one of the great games,” gushed Richardson, who had returned 2/40 in the New Zealand innings.
Joking that 270 was probably the par score considering the pitch conditions and the short boundaries at the venue, Richardson said that despite New Zealand’s big total, the Australians felt they could pull off the chase.
“At the halfway break, everyone thought we were a chance,” he said. “You look at our batting, and you think, ‘Yeah, if someone gets going, we are (a chance)’. But to do that over 20 overs, and you saw how Guptill played, to stay in that for 20 overs is so hard. So, yeah, in hindsight, unbelievable!”
Short, who was promoted to the top of the batting order at the start of the tournament in Aaron Finch’s absence but has stayed there despite Finch returning, scored a 44-ball 76, with eight fours and three sixes. He added 121 for the first wicket with Warner, who slammed 59 in 24 balls, and batted till the 17th over to take Australia to within a few big hits of victory.
Echoing Richardson’s thoughts, Short, who was later named Player of the Match, said, “We always believed that we could do it. But when we walked in at half-time and knew we were chasing 240, we knew that we had to go from the start. We had enough firepower to do it if we came off."
At the wrong side of the result was Guptill, who became the highest run-scorer in T20I history during the course of his innings. He ended the game with 2188 runs against his name, going past Brendon McCullum’s earlier mark of 2140.
“It's a funny old feeling isn’t it? To put 240 on the board and lose the game, it's a little bit disheartening,” said Guptill. “It's a tough one to put your finger on really. They chanced their arm in the first six and it paid off. Any time you score 90 in the front six, it's going to put pressure on any score you put on the board. They hit the ball extremely well and got the benefits for it, so hats off to them.”
The result gave Australia four wins out of four in the tournament. The next match, the last of the group stage, pits New Zealand against England at Hamilton’s Seddon Park on Sunday, 18 February.