World Twenty20 2016: New Zealand edge Australia to close in on semis
|ICC World Twenty20, Group 2, Dharamsala:|
|New Zealand 142-8 (20 overs): Guptill 39 (27), Elliott 27 (20), Faulkner 2-18, Maxwell 2-18|
|Australia 134-9 (20 overs): Khawaja 38 (27), M Marsh 24 (23), McClenaghan 3-17, Santner 2-30|
|New Zealand won by eight runs|
|Scorecard and standings|
New Zealand took a big step towards the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 - and exacted revenge for the 2015 World Cup final - with an eight-run win over Australia.
For the second game in a row, the Black Caps looked to be below par with the bat, subsiding to 142-8 after Martin Guptill's explosive 39.
Australia appeared to be cruising as they raced to 37-0 after four overs.
But Mitchell McClenaghan's 3-17 was decisive as they crumbled to 134-9.
And just as in their victory against India, New Zealand's spinners were influential, with Mitchell Santner taking 2-30 and Ish Sodhi conceding just 14 runs off his four overs.
Kane Williamson's side now sit atop Group 2 with two wins, and victory in their next game against Pakistan on Tuesday may be enough to guarantee their passage to the last four.
Australia, meanwhile, face a difficult path to the semis, with their match against India on 27 March likely to be a contest that eliminates the loser.
McClenaghan shines as Kiwis squeeze again
For the second match in a row, New Zealand opted to leave out star seamers Tim Southee and Trent Boult, instead opting to bring in McClenaghan at the expense of all-rounder Nathan McCullum.
But, once again, the selectors were totally vindicated as McClenaghan claimed three key wickets.
First he halted Australia's rollicking start by inducing Shane Watson to hit a catch to mid-off, then he wrapped up victory with a superb penultimate over that accounted for the dangerous duo of Mitchell Marsh and Ashton Agar, both caught on the fence.
McClenaghan's heroics were part of a superb team effort by New Zealand with the ball, Santner following up his man-of-the-match performance against India with the wickets of Steve Smith and David Warner to become the leading wicket-taker in the tournament proper.
Australia - who left out the world's number one-ranked T20 batsman, Aaron Finch - failed to get to grips with the conditions, with many batsmen perishing to big shots on a pitch where timing proved difficult.
The Black Caps may not be renowned for their mastery of slow surfaces but, well marshalled by Williamson in his first tournament as skipper, they look to have hit upon a formula to win low-scoring games in the challenging conditions of the subcontinent.
Part-timers' parsimony in vain for Australia
Steve Smith's side will take some comfort from a strong performance with the ball, fighting back tenaciously after New Zealand raced to 58-0 off the first six overs.
The innings swung on the wicket of Guptill, whose fluent 39 off 27 balls before being caught at deep mid-wicket proved impossible to match as the pitch slowed up and Smith cannily introduced his part-time bowlers.
Glenn Maxwell accounted for Williamson and Corey Anderson - both caught by Agar at long-off - in quick succession as Australia took a stranglehold on the innings, with New Zealand going six overs without finding the boundary.
The quartet of Maxwell, Watson, Marsh and James Faulkner gave the batsmen no pace to work with, and despite the late impetus added by Grant Elliott (27 off 20), Australia seemed to be in the ascendancy.
But, while the four all-rounders bowled 14 overs with combined figures of 6-88, it was the profligacy of Australia's frontline bowlers that proved decisive, with Agar, Adam Zampa and Nathan Coulter-Nile's six wicketless overs costing 54 runs.
What they said
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson: "We're fortunate to play on two wickets that were very similar. It was nice to get a score on the board that, on this surface, was tough to chase.
"It's important that you read the conditions and select accordingly. Today we thought we had to be different again and I'm pleased with the way the boys stepped up.
"It's important we gel well. We look at the task at hand and perform as best we can."
Australia captain Steve Smith: "I thought around 150 was about par. Obviously their spinners bowled extremely well again and we didn't respond well. You can't lose wickets in clumps like that - we couldn't get any partnerships together.
"We didn't apply ourselves enough. We should have knocked the ball around a bit more rather than going for the big shots. But these things happen and we have to move on."
New Zealand face Pakistan in Mohali, while Australia's next match pits them against Bangladesh in Bangalore on Monday.