Black Caps slip to series loss

Travis Head, of Australia, is bowled by the Black Caps’ Ben Sears during game two of the sides’...
Travis Head, of Australia, is bowled by the Black Caps’ Ben Sears during game two of the sides’ T20 series at Eden Park in Auckland last night. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
A strong Black Caps fight-back with the ball in game two of the T20 series against Australia at Eden Park last night, which restricted their transtasman neighbours to 174 all out, was not nearly enough for a win as their batting manifestly failed to fire.

The hosts collapsed to 102 for nine to lose the game by 72 runs, and with it the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

Things looked ominous for the home side early when Trent Boult, on return to national duty, had his opening over dispatched by Travis Head for 20 runs.

Lockie Ferguson sent back Steve Smith early, lbw for 11, but the swashbuckling Head, joined by his captain Mitch Marsh, had powered Australia to 85 for one in the sixth over.

Head’s dismissal though, coming when he was bowled by a fired-up Ben Sears for 45 off 22, triggered a steady flow of wickets that began to peg back the sky-high run rate.

Glenn Maxwell (6) departed cheaply and then Marsh (26) went two balls later, both caught at long on by Boult from the bowling of Sears and Mitchell Santner respectively.

Ferguson then bounced out Josh Inglis (5), caught at deep square leg, and when Matthew Wade (1) went after Santner he only succeeded in skying a catch back to the bowler, leaving Australia in bother at 122 for six.

Tim David could then not repeat his game one fireworks either, miscuing Adam Milne to Santner at extra cover for 17 from 19.

As he often does, though, Pat Cummins responded with the bat when required, making 28 from 22 to guide his side through the last few overs towards a par score, before he, too, struck a catch to long-on to give Ferguson a second scalp.

Ferguson then cleaned up the tail in the last over of the innings, having Adam Zampa (1) and Josh Hazlewood (0) caught off consecutive balls to bowl Australia out for 174 with one delivery still in the tank.

The New Zealand paceman finished with the outstanding figures of four for 12.

The Black Caps’ chase got off to a poor start when, after hitting one towering six over midwicket, Finn Allen was bowled in the first over — via first bat, and then boot — by Hazlewood.

Captain Santner made the unusual move of promoting himself to No 3 to join Will Young— himself promoted to open after Devon Conway was struck on the hand while wicketkeeping — but the partnership was a short one.

Young tried a pull shot, but could only sky a top edge that was brilliantly held by keeper Wade, who ran all the way across the inner ring to backward square leg to complete the catch.

Santner and new batter Glenn Phillips then became mired, even allowing Hazlewood to bowl a maiden over.

When Santner tried to get things moving in the next over, he only succeeded in dragging a short ball from Nathan Ellis back on to his stumps, and was gone for 7.

New Zealand were 27 for three after six, some 47 runs behind Australia at the same stage, and things got worse when Mark Chapman (2) joined the night’s parade of wickets lost to miscued pull shots, spooning Marsh to David at mid on.

Australia’s total was suddenly looking very good indeed.

Left with a repair job as the required run rate began to climb towards two a ball, Phillips began to hit out, striking legside sixes off Zampa and Marsh.

But he could not find support. Zampa bowled debutant Josh Clarkson for 10 and then induced Milne to drag on first ball.

This brought Boult to the crease, possibly with a nosebleed at the heady heights of No 8.

Confronted by Boult’s batting technique and thus perhaps extra aware of the need to score runs, Phillips went for another big shot off Zampa, but only found long on, and departed for 42 from 35.

Tasked with scoring 91 from the final six overs, the New Zealand tail failed to wag — a couple of lusty blows from Boult aside — and the innings limped to a bedraggled conclusion, leaving New Zealand well short and making tomorrow’s third game a dead rubber.

Conway did not bat.

Zampa was Australia’s chief destroyer, picking up four for 34.