Hero Martin Guptill Stars as New Zealand win T20 Series

The Sky Stadium in Wellington played host to the 5th Twenty20 series between New Zealand and Australia. Martin Guptill and partner in crime Devon Conway produced a resilient display to clinch a victory in the series’ exciting final test. Their century opening stand frustrated the Australian visitors, scoring 106 between them in less than 12 overs. Let’s take a deeper look at the test series as a whole and how New Zealand came out on top in the end.

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand.

After the previous two tests were played behind closed doors, the final test was moved to Wellington’s Sky Stadium so spectators could attend. ©Makalu

Despite New Zealand claiming the series victory, Australia produced a resilient display to claw themselves level after going 2-0 down. In the end, however, they would lose the final test by seven wickets. Australia chose to bat first on a worn pitch; Josh Philippe pushed to the top of the order, was dismissed for 2 runs in the third over via lbw by Trent Boult. It wouldn’t be his last wicket of the day, dismissing Matthew Wade for 44 runs from 29 balls.

The second half of the innings saw Australia lose six wickets while scoring only 70 runs. The newly-promoted Ashton Agar struggled to impact his test series debut, managing just six runs before his dismissal to Sodhi after Guptill caught him. Such a poor ending to the innings left Australia in a dismal position. Due to several early removals, their run count was lower than expected.

Philippe wasn’t the only batsman dismissed with a low run-count; Jhye Richardson was swiftly dismissed with only four runs while Boult caught Glenn Maxwell for only 1. Only four of Australia’s batsman managed a double-digit score. Alongside Wade, Finch scored 36, Stoinis for 26 and Marsh for 10. Australia finished their innings with 142-8, a score that New Zealand was desperate to eclipse.

New Zealand’s Inspiring Display

Coming into the final test of the series, New Zealand had lost the previous two tests levelling the score at 2-2. The pressure was on for them to perform on their home soil. Thousands of spectators were permitted entry into the Sky Stadium, witnessing a fine batting display from some of New Zealand’s all-time greats.

Martin Guptill finished the day with 71 off 46. Guptill has now scored 2,839 runs, the second-highest in international Twenty20 records, with only India’s Virat Kohli’s 2,928 in front of him. Guptill opened with Conway, and between them, they managed 106 runs, Guptill managing 71 from 46 while Conway registered 36 for 28. Glenn Phillips produced another fine display, 4th into bat. He hit 34 from just 16 balls.

At this point, the game was done and dusted; Australia’s total of 142 had was surpassed by three of New Zealand’s finest batsman. On top of this, they only conceded three wickets during their last innings, meaning the result saw New Zealand win by seven wickets. Australia’s Riley Meredith managed to claim two wickets for himself. However, his efforts were fruitless as New Zealand swept away Australia’s bowlers to win the series’ final test.

In the end, New Zealand got what they deserved. They turned up on the day, whereas Australia struggled to muster any more fightback after winning the previous two tests. The last test was Australia’s most lackluster performance of the series, a disappointing end to an otherwise electric Twenty20 series.

The Return of Spectators

Lockdown procedures made their stamp on the series in a confusing way. The first two matches of the series were played in front of approximately 1,500 spectators. The New Zealand Cricket Association moved the last test to Wellington due to a scheduled 7-day lockdown taking place in the previous venue, Auckland. While the 3rd and 4th tests were played behind closed doors, the final test hosted just over 2,000 spectators in Wellington’s Sky Stadium.

New Zealand Cricket has confirmed they will consider allowing spectators in a limited capacity for the upcoming test series. With national lockdown ending, future sporting events may allow spectators. Wellington is one of the only sections of New Zealand in level 1, while the rest of the country is alert level 2 or higher. All of this is especially prevalent and has been brought back again into focus since the test match against South Africa was postponed due to virus concerns.

Australia, on the other hand, has reinstated a national lockdown due to a spike in cases. Any tests played on Australian soil will most definitely be behind closed doors. According to government statistics, the lockdown is most likely to end in late May/June. As Lockdowns come to a close across the globe, there will be plenty more sporting events for spectators to enjoy.

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Batsman at the crease.

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