And it didn’t stop there. The third over, Pat Cummins’ first, went for 17. Two more fours and a thunderous six over square leg for Allen. Australia’s big three were torn apart. When Allen was in charge for the third time, against Marcus Stoinis, New Zealand’s fifty had risen in 3.5 overs.
“To talk with [head coach Gary Stead] about how we wanted to approach the game, we wanted to throw the first punch and take it with us, be it with the ball or the bat,” Allen said. It instilled my confidence in taking one away early against Starc.
“They are an intimidating attack to encounter, so it was [about] just try to play the ball instead of the bowler. It’s what I try and always do, treat everyone the same in that regard. I think everyone agrees that when you try to swat it, it’s a bit more fun than blocking it.”
“As a batsman, once you have an edge over an opponent and you are ahead of the game… you can start dictating a little bit. That’s what happened today. He [Allen] got out on a kite and put us on the back foot”
Australian Captain Aaron Finch
Although Allen’s innings ended in the fifth over when Hazlewood burst through him with a full pitch, his 16-ball stay was arguably one of the most important for New Zealand in recent times.
“The way we started at the front is something Finn thinks is quite special,” said Conway. “He put some serious pressure on the bowlers and we used that momentum throughout the game. It’s a serious effort from him. I’ve seen him perform like this a number of times when he played with him in Wellington.”
“I definitely have to be okay with failing a lot,” Allen said. “The consistency can go up and down sometimes, which is difficult at times, but that’s where our management and Kane [Williamson] are so good at reassuring me that everything is fine and it won’t always work out… they make sure I know everyone is behind me and take the positive option.”
When asked if he always has a confident look, he replied, “I’ll try, it’s not the worst mantra for life.”
Australia never really recovered from the early attack, despite managing some control in the mid-stage. Allen had such an impact that it still felt like the most important innings of the game, even though Conway took over and went on to go to an unbeaten 92 from 58 balls, the second time he’d just missed a T20I hundred against Australia. In contrast to Allen’s immense strength, Conway uses angles and placement – his work against Adam Zampa was excellent, taking the leg pinner for 32 in 17 balls. He now has the extraordinary T20I average of 57.38, but was happy to delay his teammate.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Finn and the way he played,” he said. “The way he pressured them allowed me to get those balls that were a little looser. In T20 cricket, when you pressure bowlers, no matter how good you are, it’s a tough job. Ball two, he hit one to the border and we were gone.”
Andrew McGlashan is deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo