x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

McCullum sparkles in thriller

It was always going to take something special to end Australia's 24-match unbeaten sequence in all formats of the game and New Zealand provided it.

It was always going to take something special to end Australia's 24-match unbeaten sequence in all formats of the game and New Zealand, their neighbours, provided it yesterday in a pulsating Twenty20 game in Christchurch. After 40 thrilling overs, illuminated by a stunning 116 off 56 balls from Brendon McCullum, both sides were locked on 214 runs at the end, resulting in the dramatic tie-break - the Super Over.

Tim Southee, who was a surprise inclusion ahead of Daryl Tuffey, was charged with the task of bowling New Zealand's sudden-death over and he bowled superbly, restricting Australia, who used Cameron White, David Warner and Brad Haddin, to six for one off his six deliveries. The nerves then got to Australia's Shaun Tait who fired down two wides as McCullum and Martin Guptill scored nine for no loss to give the Kiwis the win to level the series 1-1.

It was fitting McCullum was at the crease for the finale as it was his magnificent innings which laid the platform for the win at the AMI Stadium. The right-hander attacked from the off, slamming eight sixes and 12 fours. The wicketkeeper/batsman played with such confidence that he was even scooping Tait, the express bowler, over the head of Haddin, the Australia stumper. His innings was just one run shy of the international record held by Chris Gayle.

For a while the target of 215 looked as though it would be too much for Australia, especially when the dangerous Warner was dismissed for just 20. But 47 from Haddin and half-centuries from Michael Clarke (67) and the big-hitting White (64 not out) took the game to the wire. kaffleck@thenational.ae