Agar and Maxwell keep Australia's hopes alive against New Zealand

By Sports Desk March 03, 2021

Fantastic performances from Ashton Agar and Glenn Maxwell ensured Australia kept their T20I series against New Zealand alive with a comprehensive 64-run victory.

Trailing 2-0 in the five-match series after a nail-biting defeat last time out in Dunedin, Australia produced an impressive response in the third T20I.

Maxwell smashed 70 from 31 balls with captain Aaron Finch adding 69 as Australia posted 208-4 after losing the toss.

Agar took 6-30 as New Zealand slumped to 144 all out in reply, setting up an intriguing fourth match on Friday.

Spin bowler Agar is the first Australia player to record six wickets in a T20 match and only the fourth ever in international cricket.

Australia are looking to avoid a third consecutive T20I series defeat following losses to England and India, while the hosts are seeking a third straight triumph.

The clash on Wednesday went against that formbook, as well as the trend of this series so far, with Finch's 44-ball knock setting the tone.

After Matthew Wade (5) fell early, the skipper - who had not registered a fifty in his previous 26 innings - put on stands of 83 with Josh Philippe (43) and 64 with a rampant Maxwell.

Maxwell scored 62 of his 70 runs in boundaries, with eight fours and five sixes in a devastating display of hitting.

Kane Williamson opted to bowl despite Mitchell Santner being ruled out with a head cold, meaning he was self-isolating as precaution while waiting for a COVID-19 test result.

Ish Sodhi (2-32) was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, none of whom could stem the flow of runs.

Devon Conway and Martin Guptill had been the batting stars of the first two matches and it was they who briefly gave the hosts hope.

Guptill fired 43 from 27 balls with Conway adding a slightly more measured 38 from 27.

But their hopes of a successful run chase were effectively ended when Agar removed Glenn Phillips (13), Conway and Jimmy Neesham (0) in the space of five balls in the 13th over.

New Zealand – who had been in with a chance at 109-3 - collapsed from there and were all out after 17.1 overs.

In support of Agar, fast bowler Riley Meredith took 2-24, including the key wicket of home captain Williamson (9), as part of an impressive debut for Australia.

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    The Caribbean team, who are the defending champions, was routed by England in the first match where they lost by six wickets after being bowled out for 55.  In the second encounter against South Africa, on Tuesday. after a promising start the team was dismissed for a subpar 143, which the Proteas easily chased down to win by 8 wickets.

    The loss leave the West Indies rooted at the bottom of the six-team table, with a net run rate of -2.550.  With only the top two teams set to advance to the final four, the Windies are already facing an uphill battle to move on to the next round.  

    “Well, we just have to do what it takes,” a dejected Pollard said following the team’s loss to South Africa.

    “We have to dig deeper as a team. We have to dig deeper as a batting unit,” he added.

    “We have to get wins on the board now. We’ve put ourselves in a position whereas from a run rate perspective that’s pretty low, and from a win percentage we haven’t won any games.

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    West Indies captain Kieron Pollard did not speculate on Quinton de Kock's refusal to take the knee, but suggested education is a major issue when it comes to the gesture.

    South Africa were without their talismanic wicketkeeper-batsman for Tuesday's T20 World Cup match, which they still won despite De Kock's absence.

    The Cricket South Africa (CSA) board on Monday decided that all players must take the knee before their remaining World Cup games, as a consistent and united stance against racism.

    De Kock has previously declined to make the gesture and opted not to play against the Windies at Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday following the demand from CSA.

    Proteas captain Temba Bavuma said South Africa players were "taken aback" by De Kock's decision, with the batsman unsure whether the former skipper will play any further part in the World Cup.

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    "So this is sort of news to us or to me. But you know, you guys know our thoughts on this matter. It's something that we feel strongly about as a team and as a people, as well, and we will continue to do it.

    "Each and everyone has their own opinions on it, but as I've always said, once you're educated, and you understand, we will understand you doing it, but I think education sort of is the key, and we don't want anyone doing it for us in solitude or to feel sorry for us.

    "I'm not aware of which individual you speak about, but I'm guessing afterwards someone will increase my knowledge capacity on what actually transpired."

    Pollard was then informed it was De Kock who had withdrawn his participation in the game and was asked if he believes conversations should be held with the South Africa star to educate him on the issue.

    "Again, I can't speak on something that I don't know," Pollard replied. "I guess you guys know more than me.

    "If I sit here, I'm going to speculate as to what actually transpired in all honesty. Again, if it's an educational thing, I guess then there's persons are wrong to educate.

    "I don't think it's my job at this present time to educate. I think I have a lot more on my plate in terms of leading our team, and we're in a position where we need to win cricket games. I don't think that's my forte at the minute."

    Pollard hit three boundaries, including a six, in a knock of 26 from 20 deliveries against South Africa, as well as going for nine off the only over he bowled as holders the Windies slumped to a second defeat of the Super 12 after their capitulation against England.

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