Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar took 3-27 to lead Australia to a 19-run win over New Zealand on Wednesday under the Duckworth-Lewis system in the rain-affected final of the Twenty20 tri-series.
Agar first took a catch from the bowling of Kane Richardson to set in motion the collapse of the New Zealand top and middle order, then claimed the wickets of Kane Williamson (9), Mark Chapman (8) and Colin de Grandhomme (10) to give the collapse momentum.
With his four-over spell and contributions of 2-30 from both Richardson and Andrew Tye’s four overs, Australia restricted New Zealand to 150-9, batting first after winning the toss.
D’Arcy Short then made 50 as Australia reached 121-3 in 14.4 overs, gaining a strong position in any Duckworth-Lewis calculation, before rain ended the match.
In doing so it posted its fifth straight T20 victory to take over the No. 1 world ranking in the format after starting the season ranked seventh.
Australia ended the series unbeaten while New Zealand and England, which begin a five-match one-day international series on Sunday, had one win each.
“Right from the get-go we played superb cricket,” Australia captain David Warner said. “I just asked the guys to be clinical and try to execute everything that you do with the bat and the ball and energy in the field and I can’t complain where the guys have been.”
Short’s second T20 international half century, from 28 balls, guided Australia to 72-1 before the loss of its first wicket and made its win certain, in spite of heavy rain which twice interrupted the Australian innings.
It was already 20 runs ahead of New Zealand when rain first forced the players from the field for 20 minutes, and it needed 30 from 32 balls when the second, heavier downpour occurred.
Australia started its innings a man down after Chris Lynn suffered a dislocated shoulder while fielding, leaving the tourists without one of their top batsman. That became an issue when the Australians found themselves 84-3 with just over 10 overs gone but they quickly recovered.
Although it was played on the same pitch, the match stood in stark contrast to the last meeting between the teams at Eden Park on Friday when Australia won by five wickets in a world-record run chase and in a match which fell one run short of becoming the highest-scoring in the history of Twenty20 internationals. Australia made 245-5 in reply to New Zealand’s 243-6 in a match which contained 32 sixes.
The strong start between Warner and Short put Australia in a position to weather both rain interruptions, even when the tourists lost three wickets in the space of fewer than three overs before the end.
“We had another good start but I thought through the middle, we didn’t assess as well as we could have,” Williamson said.