On Saturday, New Zealand thrashed hosts and defending champions Australia by 89 runs to kick off the Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 and avenge last year’s final defeat.
Devon Conway, a former talented but underperforming South African franchise cricketer, carried his bat with a majestic unbeaten 92 to help New Zealand blast 200-3 before Australia were skittled for 111 in Sydney to begin their title defence in a nightmare fashion.
Conway’s 58-ball knock included seven fours and two sixes, joining a select group of players who have scored 90 or more runs in a World Cup. Tim Southee and Mitchell Santner both took three wickets.
The match at a sold-out Sydney Cricket Ground was a rematch of the 2021 final in Dubai, which Australia won by an eight-wicket margin.
Aaron Finch’s men now have their work cut out for them in a difficult Group 1 with Afghanistan, England, and qualifiers Ireland and Sri Lanka. Only the top two finishers advance to the semi-finals.
After Finch sent them in to bat, New Zealand got off to a flying start, with Finn Allen hitting two fours and a six off Mitchell Starc’s first over.
Not to be outdone, Conway smashed two thunderous boundaries off Josh Hazlewood as the Black Caps scored 29 runs off the first two overs.
In the next over, Adam Zampa dismissed Allen for 17, and Pat Cummins was similarly dismissed for 17.
When Hazlewood returned, the young right-luck hander’s ran out, and the wily pace spearhead bowled him for 42 off just 16 balls as he charged down the crease.
The introduction of Marcus Stoinis and Zampa helped to slow the run rate, but Conway reached 50 with a six off spinner Zampa, who also lbw Kane Williamson (23) in the same over.
Glenn Phillips was out for 12 before Jimmy Neesham hit a six off the final ball to reach 200.
Australia vs. New Zealand SCORECARD
Australia’s chase got off to a bad start when David Warner, the tournament’s player of the year in 2021, was out for three in the second over, dragging the ball onto his stumps off Southee.
Finch (13) hit a huge six off Trent Boult but didn’t last long, hitting Santner straight to Williamson at cover as his poor form continued.
Mitchell Marsh had a similar story, briefly hitting big to make 16 before being caught by Neesham going for another slog, leaving Australia at 34-2 in the fifth over.
Phillips made one of the best catches of the tournament so far, leaping full length to his left as Stoinis ran from deep cover.
And when big-hitting Tim David, who had been preferred over Steve Smith, became Santner’s third wicket, out for 11, the game was all but over at 68-5 in the 11th over.
With the tailenders offering little resistance, Matthew Wade (two) and Glenn Maxwell (28) were their last hope.
Australia will play Sri Lanka in Perth on Tuesday, while New Zealand will play Afghanistan in Melbourne the following day.