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New Zealand defeat Australia in World T20 thriller

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New Zealand defeat Australia in World T20 thriller
ADNAN ABIDI REUTERS

New Zealand beat Australia by eight runs Friday in a thrilling match at cricket's World Twenty20, with recalled paceman Mitchell McClenaghan taking three wickets for 17.

After New Zealand had made 142 for eight in their 20 overs at Dharamsala, Australia had appeared well set to chase down a modest total.

But they lost four wickets in their last two overs with McClenaghan and Corey Anderson holding their nerve at the death, giving the Black Caps revenge after losing last year's final of the 50 over World Cup to Australia.

McClenaghan was a surprise replacement for Nathan McCullum, one of the heroes of New Zealand's dramatic victory over the hosts India on Tuesday.

But skipper Kane Williamson's switch was vindicated in spectacular style while Australia were left to rue their decision to pick two rookie spinners, Ashton Agar and Adam Zampa.

Agar had a game to forget, carted for three sixes in what was his one and only over. His first two balls were full tosses, gratefully dispatched over the ropes by Martin Guptill, who top-scored with a brisk 39 off 27 balls.

Guptill and Williamson put on 61 in the first seven overs but the Black Caps' hopes of putting on a score close to 200 soon subsided.

But poor shot selection and tight bowling from the veteran Shane Watson and allrounders Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner put the brakes on one of T20 cricket's biggest-hitting teams.

Guptill was the first to go after racing to 39 off 27 balls, caught on the boundary by Maxwell off the bowling of Faulkner as he tried to go for another six at the beginning of the eighth over.

Williamson and Corey Anderson were then out in quick succession, both taken after they miscued expansive strokes.

New Zealand never recovered their momentum and no batsman ever really looked settled on what proved to be a slow pitch.

Watson's first three overs yielded just 11 runs and he took the key wicket of Ross Taylor in his final over, one ball after being hit for six by the former Kiwi captain.

Usman Khawaja and Watson got the Australian innings off to brisk start, putting on 44 before Watson fell.

Khawaja stroked six fours in an attractive innings of 38 off just 27 balls before he was run out just as he looked poised to post a big score.

Australia seemed comfortably placed at the mid-way point in their innings, having put 66 on the board.

But David Warner perished in the first ball of the 11th over, holing out at deep mid-wicket after mistiming a pull shot off the bowling of Mitchell Santner.

New Zealand's Mitchell McClenaghan (centre) celebrates after his dismissal of Australia's Mitchell Marsh.

Spinners Santner and Ish Sodhi, the heroes of the win over India, again bowled tidy spells.

Sodhi conceded just 14 runs in his four overs while Santner took two for 30, his figures slightly tarnished at the end when he conceded two sixes off his last three balls.

McClenaghan was handed the ball for the penultimate over and did his captain proud by taking the wickets of both Marsh and Agar, conceding just three runs in the process.

New Zealand's second win in two games makes them firm favourites to reach the semi-finals of the tournament but is a big blow to Australia's hopes of winning a trophy that has so far proven elusive.