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New Zealand edges Australia by four runs in 2nd T20

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Wellington: Martin Guptill made a spectacular return to form, hitting eight sixes in a 50-ball innings of 97 which lifted New Zealand to a thrilling win over Australia by four runs in the second Twenty20 cricket international.

Guptill led New Zealand to 219-7 as it batted first after losing the toss Thursday and Australia seemed out of the match when it slumped to 113-6 after 13 overs.

But Marcus Stoinis made 78 from 37 balls and shared a partnership of 92 in 6.1 overs with Daniel Sams, who scored 41 from 15 balls, to get Australia within a shot of an incredible victory.

Australia went into the last over in a strong position, needing 15 runs with four wickets in hand.

New Zealand turned to Jimmy Neesham, who hadn’t bowled in the match, and it proved an inspired decision; he removed Sams with the first ball of the over, tipping the match in New Zealand’s favor.

Stoinis couldn’t score from the next two balls but clubbed a six from the fourth ball of the over, leaving Australia needing nine runs from two deliveries. Hitting out, Stoinis skied a ball high into the leg side and Tim Southee, with icy nerves, stood under the ball and claimed the catch which sealed the win and gave New Zealand a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.

“We got back into a great position,” Australia captain Aaron Finch said.

“That partnership between Stoinis and Daniel Sams produced some extraordinary hitting, like the first innings as well.

“It was a great game of cricket, good to be a part of, unfortunately we didn’t come out on the right side.”

Guptill, 34 and New Zealand’s most-prolific T20 batsman, had been under pressure to hold his spot in a strong Black Caps lineup as he endured a long form slump and new players emerged from domestic cricket to challenge him for his opening role.

On Thursday he provided a sharp reminder of his proficiency in the short format and set the tone for New Zealand’s innings, exploiting the short boundaries at the University Oval which was hosting a T20 international for the first time.

In total New Zealand’s batsmen hit 18 sixes, a record for a T20 international, and Guptill overtook India’s Rohit Sharma (127) to top the list for most sixes by a batsman in T20 internationals with 132.

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