New Zealand opener Martin Guptill's maiden T20I ton went into vain as Australia rode on the fifties by D'Arcy Short and David Warner to stun the arch-rivals in the fifth match of the tri-series at Eden Park, Auckland, on Friday. Almost 500 runs were scored overall in an extraordinary display of sustained power-hitting. New Zealand equalled their highest T20I score of 243/6 after choosing to bat first and Australia reached 245/5 with seven balls remaining.
Martin Guptill scored the fastest T20 century by a New Zealander, from 49 balls, and put on 132 in 10.4 overs for the first wicket with Colin Munro (76 from 33). Guptill went on to make 105 and take his tally of runs in T20 cricket to 2,188 — the highest by any player from any country. "When you've got a total like that and an outstanding innings (Guptill) you've just got to take the scoreboard out of it and back yourself and we did," Warner said. "Don't get caught up in the small boundaries (at Eden Park) and just keep playing natural strokes."
Australia has already qualified for the final. New Zealand will play England on Sunday to decide the other finalist.
At the break between innings, New Zealand's total had looked insurmountable. From the moment Guptill hit the first ball of the New Zealand innings for four until Ross Taylor hit the last ball for six, the home team scored at an unprecedented rate.
Guptill and Munro reached a half-century partnership from only 28 balls and New Zealand was 56/0 after five overs. Guptill's half-century came from only 30 balls with a six off Short's only over, which went for 19. Munro reached his half-century two balls later and also with a six off Short.
At 10 overs, New Zealand was 114/0 and Guptill and Munro were both accelerating.
Munro smashed three consecutive sixes at the start of the 11th over bowled by Andrew Tye, then holed out to long-on, with six sixes and six fours overall.
Guptill went on to post his century with two consecutive sixes off Marcus Stoinis. His second T20 century came from 49 balls, one less than Brendon McCullum's former record for New Zealand.
Guptill was finally out with the total at 212/3 but New Zealand failed to capitalize on the final overs.
Warner and Short ensured Australia began at a pace even greater than New Zealand's, taking 11 runs from the first over and reaching their 50 partnership from only 24 balls.
"It's definitely the biggest run chase I've been involved," Short said. "We had the firepower to do it, we knew that and we knew we had to go out hard and get us off to a flier."
Warner, who has struggled for form recently, recovered with a vengeance and rushed to his half-century from only 20 balls with four fours and four sixes. When he was out, Short took over and guided Australia toward victory in a vital partnership with Glenn Maxwell (31).
Short was out with the total at 217/4 with 3.2 overs remaining. The match seemed in the balance but Aaron Finch guided Australia home with an unbeaten 36 off 14.
New Zealand bowled 18 wides overall.
Australia eclipsed the record for a successful run chase in T20 internationals, previously held by the West Indies at 236/6 against South Africa.
All bowlers suffered but none more so than New Zealand rookie Ben Wheeler, whose 3.1 overs cost 64 runs. He was eventually removed from the attack for bowling two high full tosses.
"It was a very good surface, small ground and I guess a game like that was bound to happen here at some point," New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said.
(With AP Inputs)