An extraordinary boundary catch from Adam Voges helped Australia to escape with a thrilling one-run win over New Zealand in the Twenty20 international at the SCG yesterday.
The hard-hitting Brendon McCullum (61 from 47 balls) appeared to be sweeping the Black Caps to victory when he launched into a Ben Hilfenhaus delivery in the penultimate over. Voges, fielding at long on, took the ball on the boundary but lost his balance and was about to fall over the rope to concede a six. But in a remarkable piece of quick thinking and composure, he threw the ball in the air as he tumbled over the rope and rose quickly to his feet to re-enter the playing field. Voges stumbled on the boundary rope but completed the catch on his knees to get rid of the dangerous McCullum.
The visitors went into the last over requiring 14 to win but were unable to get the specialist death bowler Nathan Bracken (none for 16 from four overs) away. But the brave Kiwis went down fighting, Nathan McCullum hitting a six off the last ball to ensure his team lost by the barest of margins.
Australia's victory before a boisterous crowd of 22,101 ends an indifferent summer on a positive note. After losing the Test series to South Africa and finishing 2-2 in the Chappell-Hadlee series, the Australians made sure their last international appearance for the season was a memorable one.
Set 151 to win, New Zealand began their run chase disastrously, Peter Siddle striking twice in successive overs to reduce the Kiwis to 12 for 2. The Victorian paceman got rid off Martin Guptill lbw and followed with the wicket of Peter Fulton in his next over.
McCullum and Neil Broom (36 off 26 balls) embarked on a repair job that yielded 61 for the third wicket and threatened to take the game away from Australia. But James Hopes halted the run flow just when it was starting to look ominous for the home side, enticing Broom into an injudicious swipe over midwicket. Callum Ferguson had to wait for what seemed an eternity as the ball made its way back to earth before taking a very well-judged catch.
The loss of the match-winning McCullum was one the Kiwis never fully recovered from.
The Australians could thank a 52-run fourth-wicket partnership between Voges and David Hussey for setting up a competitive total after the stand-in captain Brad Haddin won the toss and batted first. His counterpart Daniel Vettori (1 for 22 from four overs) was again the pick of the Kiwi bowlers.
Haddin made 15 off 10 balls before blasting a return catch to Tim Southee, who tapped the hot chance in the air before clinging on to the rebound. Dave Warner went the following over, slapping a catch to Vettori at mid-off from Iain O'Brien's bowling as Australia's early momentum was temporarily halted. Ferguson attempted to give himself some room and was yorked by debutant Ian Butler, leaving the hosts 3 for 52.
Australia reached 67 at the halfway point of the innings as Vettori's clever finger spinners again put the brakes on the run flow. Voges' invaluable knock came to an end with the score on 104, trapped lbw by handy all-rounder Grant Elliott.
Hussey bankrolled the Australians' innings with a well-constructed 41 from 39 balls, eventually holing out off Vettori.
Big-hitting Cameron White and debutant Moises Henriques fell at the death chasing quick runs, leaving Hopes (16 not out) and Siddle to see out the overs.But no one could have predicted such an amazing finish to the game, the result in the balance until the final few balls.