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Neesham’s heroics in vain as Australia down New Zealand in high-scoring thriller

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DHARAMSALA: James Neesham’s gutsy fifty after Rachin Ravindra’s brisk went in vain as Australia edged New Zealand by five runs in the high-scoring ICC World Cup 2023 thriller on Saturday.

New Zealand, while chasing a daunting total of 389, fell just five runs short of pulling off a historic victory.

New Zealand openers Devon Conway and Will Young gave their side a decent start as they put together 60 runs in the first seven overs before Hazlewood pulled things back for Australia by dismissing both the openers in his successive overs.

Conway scored a 17-ball 28 while Young batted cautiously for his 37-ball 32.

Following the back-to-back blows, Daryl Mitchell joined Rachin Ravindra in the middle and the duo anchored the run chase with a 96-run partnership with both scoring half-centuries.

Mitchell, however, could not continue his solid knock and fell victim to Adam Zampa in the 24th over. He scored 54 in 51 deliveries, hitting six boundaries and a six.

Ravindra then put together brief partnerships with Tom Latham and Glenn Phillips before finally perishing in the 41st over when New Zealand still needed 96 runs.

He top-scored for the Blackcaps with 116 off 89 deliveries, peppered with nine boundaries and five sixes.

James Neesham then took the reigns of New Zealand’s pursuit and got extremely close to pulling it off but his dismissal on the penultimate delivery of the innings left New Zealand needing a six on the final ball.

He smashed three boundaries and three sixes amid his fighting 39-ball 58.

Mitchell Starc held his nerve and bowled a fuller delivery outside off to Lockie Ferguson, who went hard at it but only managed to drill it straight to the fielder in the ring at cover.

Adam Zampa led the bowling attack for Australia with 3/74, followed by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, taking two each, while Glenn Maxwell picked one.

Travis Head returned to the side after recovering from the hand injury he suffered at Centurion in South Africa last month.

He and David Warner justified their captain’s decision to bat first and scripted a flying start for Australia, raising 60 runs in the first five overs.

Both openers played briskly to score 175 runs off 117 balls for the first wicket and set a platform to get a mammoth total.

David Warner (80) was then caught and bowled by Glenn Phillips in the 20th over, ending the blistering opening stand.

Warner’s 65-ball 80, featured five boundaries and six sixes.

Meanwhile, Travis Head, after hitting the joint-fastest half-century in the World Cup off 25 balls converted that into a 59-ball century.

However, he also fell prey to Phillips after scoring 109 runs from 67 deliveries with the help of ten boundaries and seven sixes.

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Australia then slipped from 200-2 to 274-5, with Glenn Maxwell and Josh Inglis in the middle.

Maxwell then played a brisk cameo of 41 off 24, featuring five boundaries and two sixes, before being caught by Trent Boult off James Neesham.

Skipper Pat Cummins and Josh Inglis then knitted a 62-run partnership from 22 balls for the seventh wicket to push Australia’s total to 387.

Inglis scored 38 from 28, with the help of four boundaries and one six, while Cummins scored a blistering 37 off 14, featuring four sixes and two boundaries.

Inglis fell in the 49th over, bowled by Trent Boult with the scoreboard reading 387-7. Boult then took two more wickets in the over and gave away only one run.

Matt Henry ended the Australian innings in the final over with the wicket of Mitchell Starc at 388.

Trent Boult attained figures of 3-77, while Glenn Phillips returned with 3-37 for New Zealand.

READ: Matthew Wade to captain Australia on India T20I tour

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