Qantas T20 Tour of NZ 2021
Fantastic Finch, Aussie spinners set up series decider
Australia force a winner-takes-all fifth T20I with a commanding win in Wellington
5 March 2021, 08:32 PM AEST
Australia have levelled the T20 series with New Zealand, skittling the Black Caps for just 106 in Wellington to set up a do-or-die finale on Sunday.
In blustery conditions on Friday night, Aaron Finch smacked 26 off Kyle Jamieson's final over to power Australia to 6-156 at an empty Sky Stadium.
The total was well short of their 4-208 at the same venue on Wednesday but proved enough for a 50-run victory over an out-of-sorts New Zealand.
Australia squeezed the hosts by front-loading their attack with spin.
Fresh from his Australian record 6-30, Ashton Agar (2-11) opened the bowling as Finch kept the ball in his tweakers' hands for nine of the opening 13 overs.
"The way that we bowled, particularly in the powerplay, was outstanding," Finch said.
"Ashton Agar was outstanding. He was brilliant. All the bowlers were really good."
Agar had Martin Guptill (7) caught in the deep early, while Glenn Maxwell (2-14) lured Kane Williamson (8) into an errant sweep.
Under pressure to up the run rate, Glenn Phillips (1) ran himself out to leave the Black Caps stranded at 4-41 after 10 overs.
From that point, New Zealand were effectively out of the contest, ruing a loose finish with the ball that turned the match.
"Aaron Finch's last over swung it more in their favour," Black Caps coach Gary Stead said.
"We need to fire a few more shots at them early on and try to get on the front foot."
Finch found scoring tough for most of his innings, reaching his half-century off a pedestrian 47 balls.
At 6-130, he unloaded in the final over, crunching two sixes over extra cover, another over long-on and putting the final ball of the innings into the stands over mid-wicket.
The captain finished with 79 off 55 in a superbly judged innings, coming after his fine 69 on Wednesday night.
Finch's final over brought more runs than every partnership he shared with Australia's established batters, as Matthew Wade (14), Josh Philippe (13), Maxwell (18) and Marcus Stoinis (19) all struck out trying to up the run rate.
Agar, in at six ahead of Mitch Marsh, was bowled for a third-ball duck, with Marsh following shortly after for six.
At that point, Finch realised the innings was on his bat, upping his strike rate beyond 100.
The 34-year-old also moved past the absent Dave Warner to become Australia's all-time leading T20 international run scorer and just the fifth man to clock 100 international T20 sixes.
The series will be decided at the same venue on Sunday, with fans allowed back in the stands after the easing of New Zealand's COVID restrictions.
Australia XI: Aaron Finch (c), Matthew Wade (wk), Josh Philippe, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa, Riley Meredith
New Zealand XI: Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult
Qantas T20I tour of New Zealand 2021
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Josh Philippe, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Daniel Sams, Tanveer Sangha, D'Arcy Short, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee.
1st T20: New Zealand won by 53 runs
2nd T20: New Zealand won by four runs
3rd T20: Australia won by 64 runs
All matches will be shown live in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo