Aaron Finch lauded the depth of his Australia squad as they dug deep to beat Pakistan and advance to the T20 World Cup final, led by Matthew Wade's late show.

Australia were set 177 to win after putting Pakistan in to bat in Thursday's second semi-final.

"I was actually hoping I'd lose the toss and try to bat first on that wicket," captain Finch said afterwards. "I thought it would be nice to put a total on the board in the semi-final."

The Australia skipper was delighted with how his decision panned out, though, as his team followed New Zealand's example against England and chased down a daunting target with an over to spare.

Finch's men looked to be in trouble when they were reduced to 96-5 in the 13th over, having lost the captain for a golden duck as Pakistan made a rapid start.

But Australia have dangerous options right down their batting line-up and an unbroken partnership of 81 off just 41 deliveries between Wade (41) and Marcus Stoinis (40) stunned Pakistan.

"I thought we were actually pretty sloppy today. We dropped a couple of chances in the field, a couple of really, really tough ones, no doubt," Finch said.

"But I think it shows the depth of our team at the moment, which is really important. You need the support of all 17 players in your squad to get across the line. We played some really good cricket towards the back end."

Wade finished with three straight sixes immediately after being dropped by the hapless Hasan Ali, and he said: "When I got out there with Marcus, he was really confident we'd get them, even though I was a little unsure.

"He found the boundaries early on, and I was happy to chip in at the end. It got down to two a ball, and from there it was: if you got one in your arc, just try to hit it.

"It probably hasn't sunk in yet but I'm just happy I could contribute. I was out of the team a couple of years ago and I'm just glad I got an opportunity and repaid the faith."

Pakistan have taken on all comers in the T20 World Cup and will look to end Australia's hopes of winning a maiden title at the semi-final stage on Thursday.

Babar Azam's side made a statement when they hammered fierce rivals India by 10 wickets in their opening match of the tournament and they have never looked back, winning all five Super 12 games.

Australia qualified as runners-up to England in Group 1 as they strive to win the T20 World Cup for the first time and have come out on top in their previous two T20Is against Pakistan.

Pakistan had won five in a row versus Australia in the shortest format prior to those two losses.

Matthew Hayden stated that he believes being a "warrior of Australian cricket over two decades" can give Pakistan an edge in his role as batting consultant for this tournament.

Pakistan's only T20 World Cup title was won back in 2009 and they were beaten by Australia in a semi-final the following year.

Stats Perform usese Opta data to preview the second semi-final at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, with the winner facing England or New Zealand at the same venue three days later.

Brilliant Babar leading by example

Pakistan's classy run machine Babar has been outstanding with the bat and his captaincy in this tournament.

The prolific skipper has made four scores of least 50 in this tournament, only the third player to do so in a T20 World Cup. Australia great Hayden (four in 2007) and India captain Virat Kohli (four in 2014) are the other two.

Babar is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 264 from five innings at an average of 66 and a strike rate of 128.15.

Paceman Shaheen Afridi has been magnificent with the ball, forcing a false shot from a batter with 44 per cent of his 120 deliveries – the highest rate of any player at the Super 12 stage to bowl more than a single innings.

Haris Rauf has also made a big impact and is Pakistan's leading wicket-taker with eight to Afridi's six for the only team with a 100 per cent record in the Super 12s.

 

Zampa providing Australia x-factor

Spinner Adam Zampa has been one of Australia's leading lights on their run to the last four.

The tweaker has claimed 11 wickets at an average of just 9.90, with only Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga (16) having taken more scalps. His figures of 5-19 against Bangladesh are the best in the tournament.

Zampa has finished four of his five innings in the tournament with a bowling economy below six runs per over after having done so only once in his 17 innings prior. 

Paceman Josh Hazlewood has also maintained his outstanding form on the back of an Indian Premier League triumph with Chennai Super Kings.

Hazlewood has taken eight wickets with a strike rate of 11.87, delivering with the new ball time and again, and Australia will be looking for him to make early inroads along with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

 

Aaron Finch believes his Australia team are proving their critics wrong as they prepare to do battle for a place in the T20 World Cup final.

Australia headed into the World Cup in poor form in the shortest format, having recorded five successive series defeats, leaving captain Finch and head coach Justin Langer under pressure.

An eight-wicket thrashing at the hands of England in their third game of the Super 12 stage left them on the brink of an exit, but wins over Bangladesh and West Indies proved enough to seal their place in the last four.

Pakistan, the only unbeaten team remaining at the World Cup, stand between Australia and a showdown against either England or New Zealand in Sunday's final.

Finch accepts many commentators may have written Australia off before the tournament started, but he insists the team only had one goal in mind when they arrived in the United Arab Emirates.

"It's just one of those things that in the lead-up to the tournament you tend to hear things or see the odd quote or comment that people have written you off," Finch told reporters.

"It's interesting how the narrative can change really quick. About 10 days ago, our team was too old, and now, we're an experienced team.

"That's just how it all gets portrayed. From day one, I've had a lot of confidence in the way that we've gone about this with the squad that we've got. I don't think that we've exceeded our expectations whatsoever. We came here with a really clear plan to win this tournament, and we're still alive to do that."

 

With Australia hosting the 2022 T20 World Cup, Finch is hopeful their efforts in recent weeks have set them in good stead for the future, even if their attempts to clinch silverware this time around fall short.

"One thing I'm really proud of is how we've started to uncover a little bit more depth in T20 cricket in Australia," he said.

"Some guys who mightn't have got an opportunity in the past if everyone was available, they got a good opportunity to test themselves in international cricket.I think in the long run, over the next two or three years, this period of Australian cricket will help us uncover more talent and more depth, especially in the white-ball format.

"That's something I'm really proud of. Although the results previous to this World Cup hadn't gone our way a huge amount, there was so much learning that we got out of that."

Australia have won their past two T20Is against Pakistan, having lost their prior five encounters in the format, and have won three of their past five meetings at the T20 World Cup.

However, Pakistan have won their past six T20Is – the last time they won more in succession in the format was a nine-game streak from July 2018 to November 2018, which included five straight wins against Australia.

Liam Livingstone hailed Jos Buttler as "the best hitter of a white ball in the world" after he blasted England to an eight-wicket T20 World Cup thrashing of Australia.

England moved to the brink of the semi-finals with a third crushing victory in three games, demolishing their great rivals at Dubai International Stadium on Saturday.

The bowlers once again set up a statement win, Chris Woakes (2-23) outstanding with the new ball as Australia could only post 125 all out.

It might have been much worse for Australia, as they slumped to 21-4 in the seventh over, but captain Aaron Finch hung in there with 44 before Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc provided the sort of lusty blows the top order failed to come up with.

Chris Jordan (3-17), Adil Rashid (1-19) and Livingstone (1-15) were also outstanding in another near flawless performance from Eoin Morgan's side in the field, with the in-form Moeen Ali not called upon to bowl.

Buttler then took centre stage with an explosive 71 not out from 32 deliveries as England reached their target with 50 balls to spare, going two points clear at the top of Group 1 with a far superior net run-rate to their rivals.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler struck five huge sixes as he took the Australia attack apart and Livingstone lapped up a masterclass from his team-mate.

He told Sky Sports: "It was a pleasure watching that Jos innings, the bowlers have been phenomenal, and Mo's been our best bowler and hasn't even bowled today.

"We have great depth in our line-up, then a pleasure to watch genius at work [Buttler]. He's the best hitter of a white ball in the world. A clinic of white-ball hitting."

Finch also doffed his cap to Buttler and vowed that wounded Australia will regroup after dropping below South Africa into third place.

"When we lost a few wickets in the powerplay, we had to hang in there, get to a total we thought would be defendable if we got it right with the ball," Finch said.

"Woakes is a brilliant exponent when there's seam early. We had to bowl them out, no issues there, but Buttler played a hell of an innings.

"We got off to a poor start, but a couple of days off to recharge, we'll dust ourselves off and come back for Bangladesh."

David Warner returned to form with a blistering half-century after Adam Zampa put Sri Lanka in a spin as Australia cruised to a seven-wicket T20 World Cup win.

Warner's place in the side had been called into question due to a lack of runs, but the opener silenced his critics a day after his 35th birthday as Australia made it two wins out two in the Super 12 stage.

Sri Lanka posted 154-6 after Aaron Finch won the toss and opted to field at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday, Kusal Perera and Charith Asalanka making 35 apiece before Bhanuka Rajapaksa added an unbeaten 33.

Spinner Zampa flummoxed the Sri Lanka batters, taking 2-12 from his four overs, while Mitchell Starc (2-27) and Pat Cummins (2-34) also did damage.

Josh Hazlewood played a big part with the ball once again without reward and Australia made light work of chasing down their target.

Warner was dropped on 18 but made 65 from 42 balls, and he and captain Finch (37 from 23) laid the platform with an explosive opening stand of 70 from only 6.5 overs.

Wanindu Hasaranga took 2-22, but Australia eased to their target with three overs to spare to join leaders England on four points in Group 1, Steve Smith making 28 not out and Marcus Stoinis unbeaten on 16.

 Zampa bamboozles Sri Lanka after promising start

Sri Lanka were going along nicely at 53-1 at the end of the powerplay, but they lost their way after the excellent Zampa had Asalanka caught on the sweep by Smith.

The guile of Zampa also saw the back of Avishka Fernando after Starc cleaned up Kusal with a searing yorker, as Sri Lanka lost four wickets for 16 runs.

Rajapaksa added some much-needed late runs, with Stoinis expensive, but Australia were left with a smaller chase than they might have been expecting.

 

Warner grateful for late Kusal gift

Warner had been dropped by Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League and came into this game having scored only 17 runs in his previous five innings.

His frustrating spell would have continued if Kusal had not put down a simple catch behind the stumps and the powerful left-hander made him pay, hitting 10 fours to set his side well on their way to victory.

Finch was also due some runs and looked in ominous touch – bad news for Australia's rivals – as he cleared the rope twice before playing on to Hasaranga.

Australia captain Aaron Finch has confirmed he will open the batting with the out-of-form David Warner at the T20 World Cup.

Warner has made only two runs in as many innings for bottom side Sunrisers Hyderabad since the Indian Premier League resumed in the UAE, finding himself dropped for a second time in the tournament.

The 34-year-old lost the captaincy before the competition was halted in India due to the coronavirus pandemic and has not played a T20 for his country for over a year.

Finch expects to be ready for Australia's opening game of the T20 World Cup against South Africa in Dubai on October 23 as he recovers from knee surgery and the skipper has given his backing to Warner.

Asked if Warner will be his opening partner, he replied: "Yep, absolutely. He's one of the best players to ever play the game for Australia.

"I've got no doubt that his preparation, while he would love to be playing for Hyderabad no doubt, I know that he's still training away. He'll be good to go."

 

Finch went under the knife in August and has stepped up his rehabilitation with the World Cup fast approaching.

"Over the last couple of weeks my recovery has progressed really well so it's looking more and more likely that I'll be fit and ready to go for them," he said.

"And just in terms of the intensity that I've been able to train, the amount of accelerations, decelerations, putting load through my knee, that's all really positive. So, yeah, I've got no issues.

"I had probably my biggest session in terms of fielding, changing direction, and all that stuff with batting involved as well so that's gone as well as it could. I had a meeting with the surgeon yesterday and he was really happy with where it's at."

Lockdown restrictions have hampered Australia's preparations, but Finch is confident that should not be too much of an issue.

He said: "Training indoors or training just in the nets is no comparison obviously to game intensity so the two warm-up games and the lead-in to the World Cup is going to be really crucial.

"We get out of quarantine, I think there's three days of practice scheduled, and then two warm-up games, so they're going to be really important to get guys up to speed as quick as possible.

"But I've got a lot of confidence in the experience of the group. We've got guys who have come off long lay-offs before. We've got guys who have come off injuries before, and it's not really all that much different when you're trying to get yourself up to speed quickly.

"I think that will play into their hands and might allow us to be a little bit fresher, to be honest."

Steve Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins are the big names who will return to the Australia set up for the T20 World Cup.

The four stars did not feature in Australia's recent tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh. Aaron Finch's team suffered a 4-1 defeat in the latter series, while they also lost the T20 series to the Windies.

However, Australia's white-ball captain will be able to call on big hitters Smith, Warner and Maxwell, as well as paceman Cummins, for the World Cup, which takes place in the United Arab Emirates and Oman in October and November.

They are joined by Josh Inglis, who has been rewarded for his outstanding form with a first international call-up.

The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a brilliant domestic season in both Australia and England, having been the leading run scorer in county cricket's T20 competition, and takes his place in the 15-man squad.

"Josh has been on our radar for some time with his performances in white ball cricket and more recently in the Vitality Blast where he topped the run charts," selection chair George Bailey said.

"He offers the squad flexibility in the batting order with his adaptability, counterattacking ability and power striking. He is a player we are excited about for the future."

Alex Carey is the biggest name to miss out at Inglis' expense, with Matthew Wade the first-choice wicketkeeper.

Nathan Ellis, Dan Christian and Daniel Sams have been named as travelling reserves.

Australia's T20 World Cup squad: 

Aaron Finch (c), Ashton Agar, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa. Travelling reserves: Dan Christian, Nathan Ellis, Daniel Sams.

Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch is expected to be fit for the start of the T20 World Cup after undergoing knee surgery.

Finch suffered cartilage damage in St Lucia last month and missed the tour of Bangladesh.

The opening batsman went under knife on Friday and the expectation is that he will be ready to lead his country when the T20 World Cup - staged in UAE and Oman - gets under way in October.

A Cricket Australia statement said: "His recovery is expected to take 8-10 weeks meaning he should be available for the opening games of the World Cup in mid-October."

Australia will face England, South Africa, West Indies and two yet-to-be-determined qualifiers in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup.

Matthew Wade stepped in to skipper an under-strength Australia side in a 4-1 T20 series loss to Bangladesh.

Aaron Finch is heading home from Australia's tour of the Caribbean in a bid to be fit for the T20 World Cup later this year.

Australia captain Finch sustained a knee injury during the final game of the T20 series with the West Indies in Saint Lucia – the tourists suffering a 4-1 defeat.

The 34-year-old, who suffered a cartilage problem earlier in the series, has subsequently missed the opening two one-day internationals between the nations at the Kensington Oval.

After the final ODI on Monday, Justin Langer's side travel to Bangladesh for another five-game T20 series as they step up preparations for the World Cup in October.

Finch, who scored a T20I record of 172 runs against Zimbabwe in July 2018, is likely to undergo surgery on his right knee upon returning to Melbourne.

And although frustrated to be departing the tour, the skipper is confident it will increase his chances of leading Australia out in three months' time. 

“I’m extremely disappointed to be heading home,” he said.

“This was considered the best course of action rather than heading to Bangladesh, not being able to play and losing that recovery time.

“I will have surgery if required and start the recovery process ahead of the World Cup."

Taking place in Oman and the United Arab Emirates, the T20 World Cup will run from October 17 to November 14.

Australia have been drawn alongside the Windies in Group 1 of the Super 12 stage, as well as England and South Africa.

Runners-up to England in 2010, Australia will be seeking a first triumph in the event, which they are also set to host next year.

Australia are hoping captain Aaron Finch can overcome injury to lead the side in the ODI series against West Indies in Barbados, which starts on Tuesday.

Finch twisted his knee while fielding in the closing T20I in St Lucia before going on to score 34 – despite his movements being visibly compromised – as Australia lost by 16 runs and slumped to a 4-1 series defeat.

Matthew Wade is the most likely candidate to take the captaincy if Finch is absent, having done so in the T20I series against India last year.

The 34-year-old opener would be a big miss to an Australia side already without Steve Smith and David Warner, who are injured and rested respectively. Ashton Agar (hamstring) and Ben McDermott (quadriceps) are progressing well.

Australia named an expanded squad for their limited-overs trip to the West Indies to mitigate against the possibility of any coronavirus absentees, although reserves Nathan Ellis and Tanveer Sangha are both bowlers.

Handily illustrating the contrasting state in which both teams approach this three-match rubber, while the tourists are trying to scrabble together a serviceable top order, West Indies head coach Phil Simmons is asking his batsmen to kick on from recent success and post consistently imposing totals.

Shai Hope, Evin Lewis and Darren Bravo each hit centuries in the 3-0 win over Sri Lanka earlier in the year, although each of those successes came when batting second – meaning there was no need for the Windies to extend themselves to 300 and beyond.

 

"We are looking for the way we batted to continue and improvements have to be made in the middle overs from 20-39 in order for us to get from 280-290 to the 320-330 we'll need against Australia," Simmons said, as quoted by ESPNCricinfo. "We've been discussing that since the Sri Lanka series so now it's time to put it into action."

Finch's opposite number Kieron Pollard is closing in on a return having sat out the T20I series due to a hamstring complaint while fellow all-rounder Jason Holder is set to return after being rested.

Australia need more Mitch-hitting

In the absence of Smith, Warner and possibly Finch, there will be even more onus on Mitchell Marsh. The powerful batting all-rounder enjoyed a superb series batting at number three during the T20Is and his 219 runs were the most by any player on either side. Marsh's ODI batting average of 34.36 is his best across the three international formats.

Windies opener Evin the time of his life

Fresh from plundering an explosive 79 to be named player of the match in St Lucia, thumping nine sixes from 34 deliveries, opener Lewis will be relishing taking his sparkling form onto the 50-over stage. The destructive left-hander followed 65 in the first match against Sri Lanka at North Sound with 103 – his fourth ODI century to stand alongside nine fifties.

Key Opta facts

- Australia have won 10 of their past 11 ODIs against West Indies but this will be just their second 50-over meeting in five years.
- West Indies' last ODI series win against Australia came in 1995; they have lost four of six since.
- Hope has posted a score in excess of 50 in each of his previous six ODI innings, including two centuries. Only Pakistan great Javed Miandad has bettered this streak in history, when he passed 50 nine consecutive times between March and October in 1987.
- Four of Shimron Hetmyer's past seven dismissals in ODIs cricket for West Indies have been against spin, more times than in his 14 prior (three).
- Finch is 69 runs shy of becoming the sixth player to score 2,000 runs for Australia as captain in ODIs. His batting average of 49.5 as skipper is the highest of any player to have captained Australia at least five times.

The West Indies have clinched their T20 International series against Australia, racing to an unassailable 3-0 lead with a dominant six-wicket win in St Lucia on Monday.

Chris Gayle produced his best knock since his return to the international side, with 67 from 38 balls as the West Indies cruised in the chase, winning with 31 balls to spare.

Stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran (32* from 27 balls) finished the job with back-to-back boundaries off Riley Meredith (48-3) to seal the series victory with two games to play.

Australia captain Aaron Finch won the toss and elected to bat first this time, with his batsmen failing to capitalise on several starts, only managing 141-6.

Moises Henriques top scored with 33, hitting Australia's only two sixes, with Hayden Walsh restricting them with 18-2 from four overs.

The improved Mitchell Starc (18-1 from four) dismissed Andre Fletcher early, bringing Gayle to the crease and the 41-year-old was at his best.

Gayle hit several lusty blows, including seven sixes and four fours in his knock, before edging to wicketkeeper Matthew Wade off Meredith.

RETURN TO FORM FOR GAYLE?

Gayle has made it clear that his return to the West Indies, after two years away, has been inspired by competing at the T20 World Cup later this year.

Despite strong Indian Premier League form, he has struggled upon his return to the international arena, managing only 102 runs in nine innings.

The veteran left-hander made his first T20 International half-century since 2016 with his knock at first drop on Monday.

"From a personal point of view, you all knew I was struggling with the bat, but to be get some runs today it's very pleasing," Gayle said. "I want to dedicate these runs to my teammates, especially Kieron Pollard. He gave me the pep talk I needed."

Gayle made 288 runs in seven innings at an average of 41.14 in the 2020 IPL, before scoring 178 runs in eight knocks in the 2021 edition.

"Looking back, when I got back into the West Indies team against Sri Lanka, I was trying to play a different role, than play Chris Gayle himself," Gayle said. "I didn’t get the runs but the guys rallied around me. It's coming on, my main focus is the World Cup."

AUSSIES T20I WOES CONTINUE

Australia continue to struggle in the shortest format, having been comfortably beaten in all three matches in the series.

Finch, who made 30 from 31 deliveries at the top of the order, felt there was a clear theme to address among the losses.

"Same as the other games, we haven’t had the top order go on deep into the innings," Finch said. "It's been quite similar the whole way through. Credit to the West Indies, they bowled beautifully, especially at the back end."

Australia have only managed scores of 127, 140 and 141-6 in the three T20Is this series, bowled out on both occasions when they have chased.

"We would’ve liked more runs, no doubt," Finch added. "That comes down to the top order not going through. If one of your top four is there through the end you put pressure on the bowlers."

Shimron Hetmyer blasted the West Indies to a 2-0 lead in their five-game T20I series against Australia with a 56-run at St Lucia on Saturday.

Hetmyer arrived at the crease at 44-2 in the sixth over but blasted four sixes on his way to 61 from 36 deliveries.

Australia captain Aaron Finch had won the toss and elected to field, but the West Indies amassed 196-4 buoyed by Hetmyer's knock, piling on 123 runs in the latter 10 overs.

Hetmyer had excellent support from Dwayne Bravo (47* from 34) and Andre Russell (24* from eight), feasting on a wayward Mitchell Starc (49-0 from four overs).

The tourists struggled again with the bat, losing openers Matthew Wade (duck) and Finch (six) cheaply, before being bowled out for 140.

Mitch Marsh, elevated to first drop, top scored with 54 from 42 balls, as Hayden Walsh took 29-3 while Sheldon Cottrell claimed 22-2.

Australia lost 39-7 after Marsh's dismissal to Walsh, with the tourists struggling to offer any significant resistance, managing only two sixes for the innings, compared to the West Indies' 13.

HETMYER HITS 'EM

After Chris Gayle failed, Guyana left-hander Hetmyer stepped up with his 61 being his international T20I best, and also only his second half-century for the West Indies.

Hetmyer said: "I think it was one of my best T20 innings. I paced it quite well. The guys backed me to take it as deep as possible. Once you do that, you have a licence."

The 24-year-old capitalized on that licence, hitting Ashton Agar, Marsh and Adam Zampa for sixes in consecutive overs.

Hetmyer was run out with 13 balls left in the innings, before Bravo and Russell added another 34 runs to set an imposing target.

The pair took a liking to Starc, with 15 runs coming from four balls in the penultimate over.

AUSSIES T20I WOES

Finch declined the blame his decision to bowl first for the defeat, while he also refused to give the series away despite trailing 2-0 and being outplayed so far.

The Australia skipper said: "I don’t think the wicket changed a huge amount. I thought it played pretty well. Chasing 190, you have to get off to a pretty good start and when your two openers get out cheaply, it puts a lot of pressure on a reasonably inexperienced international middle order."

On the series, Finch added: "We have to win three games in the series, doesn’t matter if you do it at the start of the series or come from behind."

This is Australia's first games since losing 3-2 in a five-game T20I series in New Zealand in February and March.

Finch's side also lost 2-1 in a T20I International series away to England in September last year as they strive to find their groove in the shortest format.

Martin Guptill blasted New Zealand to a comprehensive seven-wicket victory in the decisive fifth Twenty20 international against Australia to secure a 3-2 series triumph on Sunday.

The Black Caps restricted Australia to 142-8 from their 20 overs after the visitors won the toss and elected to bat in Wellington, with Ish Sodhi taking 3-24.

Guptill (71 from 46 balls) eased any anxiety about a smaller run chase on a pitch being used for the third time this series, with New Zealand claiming victory with 27 balls to spare.

New Zealand's successful chase bucked the series trend of the side batting first winning every game.

Australia captain Aaron Finch said: "We probably just weren't aggressive enough with the bat. We probably let them dictate slightly, but we didn't get enough runs and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.

"A couple of us put a fair bit of time into our innings, 20, 30, 40 balls and then to not go on with that it was probably the difference in the game. If one of us gets 60 or 70, that might be a 160-170 score and then you're a couple of good power-play overs away from really squeezing."

Sodhi was named as the player of the series, finishing with 13 wickets at an average of 12.07 across five games.

The win was set up by a disciplined bowling display led by Sodhi, while Trent Boult (2-26 with 10 dot balls) did early damage, Mitchell Santner (0-21 with 10 dots) was tight and Tim Southee (2-38 with eight dots) restricted Australia at the death.

Boult trapped Josh Philippe lbw early before Finch (36 from 32 balls) and Matthew Wade (44 from 29 balls) put together a 66-run second-wicket stand.

Finch, who came under pressure earlier in the series after a poor run of form on the back of the Big Bash League, managed one six and five fours during his knock, while Wade hit two maximums and three fours.

Sodhi got the breakthrough with Finch slicing to Santner at point, leaving Australia 74-2 after 10 overs before the innings fell away, with Glenn Maxwell falling for one, Ashton Agar for six and Mitchell Marsh for 10.

Australia lost 68-6 in the final 10, including being restricted to 36-4 from the last five overs, battling an inconsistent pitch and tight New Zealand bowling.

Devon Conway (36 from 28) and Guptill combined for a 106-run opening partnership in the chase, before Glenn Phillips (34 not out from 16) finished the job.

Guptill blasted four sixes and seven fours in his knock, going at a strike rate of 154.35.

Riley Meredith (2-39) took two wickets in two balls, with Conway caught in the deep by Agar and Kane Williamson trapped lbw for a golden duck, but it was too little, too late.

The defeat compounds a bad 24 hours for the Aussies, after India's Test win over England on Saturday confirmed Australia would miss the Test Championship final.

Black Caps captain Williamson said: "Incredibly hard-fought series and momentum shifts throughout. Then to finish with three games on a surface, try and get a read on it was a real challenge."

Record-breaker Aaron Finch is relishing having fans in attendance when Australia face New Zealand for Sunday's Twenty20 series decider.

Finch hit 79 not out off 55 balls in Friday's series-levelling 50-run triumph to become his country's leading run-scorer in the format, with 2,310 overall.

His four sixes in the final over propelled his side to 156-6 and made Finch the first Australia batsman to reach 100 maximums in T20 cricket.

Finch was the only player who really got to grips with a tough surface, but he was just glad to help make it 2-2 after the tourists had fallen 2-0 behind.

"I've always said I'd rather get a duck and win than get some runs and lose," he said after New Zealand subsided to 106 all out, seamer Kane Richardson (3-19) the pick of the Australia attack as spinners Ashton Agar, Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa took two apiece.

"But to get some runs and contribute to a win is really nice. I felt like I was hitting them terribly for a large portion of the innings, but it was one of those wickets where you never really felt totally in, particularly when spin was bowling.

"It was nice to get a few out of the middle towards the end and get us to a decent total."

On the subject of a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions allowing for the return of fans for the final match, he added: "You play professional sport because you love entertaining, you love the atmosphere when you're at the ground.

"I love going to and watching sport, so to have fans at the ground, regardless of whether they're rooting for you or against you, is just brilliant. It provides so much."

Aaron Finch became Australia's record Twenty20 run-scorer with a captain's display as the tourists set up a series decider after a dominant victory over New Zealand in the fourth of five Twenty20 showdowns.

Finch's 79 not out off 55 balls helped lay the foundations for a 50-run triumph, with Australia posting 156-6 in Wellington before bowling out the Black Caps for just 106.

It means the series is now level at 2-2, with Australia having come from two down, and will be settled in the final match on Sunday.

Tim Southee was furious after Finch was given not out on umpire's call following an lbw review in the first over, with his reaction resulting in a formal reprimand for a Level 1 breach of the ICC Code of Conduct.

The fast bowler might have been even more angry had he known the damage Finch would go on to do, the skipper accounting for over half of his side's total to become his country's leading scorer in the format on 2,310 runs.

Finch smashed four sixes off the final over, that explosive spell alone giving him more runs than any of his team-mates, with Marcus Stoinis' 19 the next-best tally.

That fact underlined the tricky nature of the pitch and New Zealand could not get to grips with it as Australia's bowlers made hay.

Kane Richardson took three wickets, while Ashton Agar, Glenn Maxwell and Adam Zampa each contributed two, with Kyle Jamieson – who bowled that expensive over to Finch – providing the only real flourish on the Black Caps' scorecard with 30 off 18 deliveries.

With a thrilling finale in prospect, fans will be allowed to attend the decider in Wellington after a relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

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