Blackcaps v Australia: Injury-plagued NZ collapse to Chappell-Hadlee series defeat at Eden Park

Australia have retained the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy with a comprehensive 72-run victory over an injury-plagued Blackcaps outfit in the second of three Twenty20 encounters at Auckland.

Afte their last-ball win at Wellington two nights earlier, the Aussies were sent into bat on Eden Park's generous boundaries and thrashed the NZ bowling attack early, as they took charge of the contest.

The Kiwis fought back and eventually chipped out their trans-Tasman rivals for just 174 within their 20 overs, but suffered a high injury toll in the process, losing up-and-coming batter Rachin Ravindra to a knee niggle before the toss and opener Devon Conway to a thumb injury in the second over.

Finn Allen loses his wicket against Australia.
Finn Allen loses his wicket against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

The reshuffled batting order never settled, with wickets falling on a regular basis, as they barely limped past 100 and no further.

At the toss, seamers Trent Boult and Ben Sears replaced Tim Southee and spinner Ish Sodhi in the New Zealand bowling attack, but Boult received a rude welcome from the Aussie openers, with Travis Head taking 16 off his opening over, plus four byes, to seize the early momentum.

Further injury was added to insult, when Conway was forced to give up the wicketkeeper's gloves, after taking the ball on the end of a thumb. Fellow opener Finn Allen took his place behind the stumps.

New Zealand interrupted the assault, when Lockie Ferguson trapped Steve Smith leg before wicket with his first delivery. Replacement Mitch Marsh was lucky not to follow, skying a topedge high, but between fielders.

Meanwhile, Head continued his barrage and the 50-partnership with Marsh came up in just 25 balls, but Sears ended his knock at 45, finding an inside edge onto the stumps. 

Sears should have had Marsh, when he was dropped by Mark Chapman, but next ball, BOult caught Glenn Maxwell on the boundary, as the Blackcaps started to pull the game back.

Boult struck again two balls later, when he caught Marsh off Mitch Santner, and the following over, Chapman's hands were safer under a high ball from Josh Inglis, off Ferguson.

Santner coaxed Matthew Wade into a topedge and took the return catch, and suddenly the flood of Australian runs had become an avalanche of wickets - four in the space of 18 runs.

The run rate, which had soared above 10 an over for the entire contest, dipped into single figures, as Tim David - the gamewinner in the series opener - and Pat Cummins tried to rebuild the innings, but David holed out to Santner at cover, off Adam Milne, to expose the tail. 

Milne appeared to have Cummins caught behind by Allen, but a review found too few fielders inside the circle, so no ball. Cummins continued to swing away and lofted Milne to Ferguson at deep mid-on for 28 off 22 balls.

Spin bowler Adam Zampa chipped Ferguson harmlessly to Santner in the final over, before Josh Hazlewood found Josh Clarkson in the outfield, as the innings ended a ball short of the allocated 20 overs.

Ferguson had avoided the onslaught for figures of 4/12 off his four overs, the only bowler not to concede a boundary.

"We were pretty happy at halfway, especially after the start they got off to," reflected Santner. "We know how dangerous they are - their top order - and they showed us again.

Credit to the boys. We tried to mixed it up a bit and to get wickets through the middle was key - it's the only way to slow these guys down, I think."

Without their two topscorers from Wellington - Ravindra and Conway - New Zealand had to reshuffle their order, with Young promoted to open. Allen chipped a six in the opening over, but lasted only a couple more balls, before playing Hazlewood onto his stumps. 

Adam Milne celebrates a wicket against Australia.
Adam Milne celebrates a wicket against Australia. Photo credit: Photosport

Captain Santner promoted himself up the order, but Young topedged Cummins into open spaces and wicketkeeper Wade took a superb running-diving full-length catch. Australia's modest total looked a long way off at 14/2 in the fourth over.

Santner's nervy stay ended ineffectually, when he edged Nathan Ellis onto his stumps, and Chapman topedged Marsh to David.

Rookie Josh Clarkson joined Glenn Phillips in the middle - the last two recognised NZ batters left standing - and they put on 45 runs for the fifth wicket, passing halfway at 59/4. Clarkson was bowled by Zampa, leaving too much for the Blackcaps tailenders.

Milne edged the next delivery onto his stumps, but Phillips survived the hattrick ball two overs later, but then lofted Zampa to David on the rope, topscoring with 42 runs off 35 balls.  

Usually the last to emerge from the stands, Boult was asked to bat at No.8 and signalled his intent by practicing a ramp shot, as he took strike. He produced a four and a six, taking his team into triple figures, before edging to gully.

Conway had returned from his x-ray, which showed no break, and padded up to bat, but was wisely dissuaded from that courageous, but pointless gesture.

Nathan Ellis cleanbowled Fergson to end the contest and cement the series win.

"Maybe we could have soaked it up a little bit longer, but they bowled extremely well," said Santner. "Whenever you lose 3-4 [wickets] in the powerplay, it's always tough from there."

The two teams return to the same ground on Sunday for a dead rubber, before the start of a two-test series next week.

Australia 174 (Head 45, Cummins 28; Ferguson 4/12) NZ 102/9 (Phillips 42; Zampa 4/34)

Australia win by 72 runs, win the series 2-0