Australia sweep NZ in T20s but Smith fails again

Ben McKay |

Australian hopes of a T20 sweep over New Zealand are threatened by the Auckland weather.
Australian hopes of a T20 sweep over New Zealand are threatened by the Auckland weather.

Australia have endured three rain delays on their way to a 27-run win and a clean sweep of their T20 series in New Zealand.

However, former skipper Steve Smith suffered another setback on Sunday as he attempts to make the squad for June’s T20 World Cup, failing to deliver once more.

Australia posted 4-118 from 10.4 overs in an innings interrupted twice by Auckland showers.

A third rain delay brought the Black Caps to the crease with a revised total of 126 to chase.

Without four top batters, the understrength Kiwis were well held to 3-98 by Australia’s bowlers at Eden Park.

With little on the line in the dead rubber, most attention centred on the performance of Smith.

The 34-year-old has been reinvented as a top-order option late in his career, and with David Warner absent, was given another shot at opening.

He departed meekly for four after three balls to damage his chances of a fourth World Cup.

The 34-year-old got off the mark with a textbook pull to the boundary, but two balls later was caught behind when half-heartedly cutting a rising Adam Milne delivery.

Smith was the only Australian batsman dismissed without making an impression.

Matt Short (27 off 11 deliveries) and Glenn Maxwell (20 off nine) played explosive hands, with Travis Head (33 off 30) accumulating well.

Josh Inglis (14 off eight) and Tim David (eight off three) were left in the middle when the rain ended their stint.

New Zealand, understrength again with key absences including Kane Williamson, Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra, never looked likely.

The early dismissals of Will Young and Tim Siefert brought key Kiwi duo Finn Allen and Glenn Phillips to the crease, with the Black Caps needing 96 from 43 balls.

Steve Smith.
Steve Smith remains under pressure after falling for just four. (Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS)

Phillips fumed as Nathan Ellis produced four straight dot balls with outswingers in an over which pushed the required run-rate out from 12 to 15 an over.

The total was soon out of reach when Allen holed out off the bowling of Adam Zampa soon afterwards.

Phillips was New Zealand’s best with an unbeaten 40 off 24, but unable to find partners able to go with him. 

Spencer Johnson (1-10 off two overs) impressed with the ball, as did Ellis (0-11 off two).

Marsh, skipped for the opening two matches, was named player of the series.

“To win three nil is a fantastic effort,” he said.

“Coming here to New Zealand, it’s always been a tough challenge … especially their T20 side, it’s a tough unit.”

Australia made three changes for the match, with Marsh, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood rested ahead of the Test series beginning at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on Thursday.

Black Caps captain Mitch Santner rued missed opportunities in the field – counting seven dropped efforts – but said the losses wouldn’t hurt confidence for the Tests.

“The series didn’t go as well as we wanted but we can park that … and move onto the Tests,” he said.

“Playing Australia at home is always a massive occasion.”

The result means Australia retains the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, which was previously contested only in ODIs, but is now in play during all short-form series.

AAP